The Bright and Dark Faces of Personality

The Bright and Dark Faces of Personality

Different personality

Research on the dark triad of personality is of increased significance in personality psychology by past few years. For a substantial period, personality was more explained and studied using the big five personality traits. However, along with the positive influence of big five traits on individuals’ daily functioning, there could also be a negative side of our personality that could hamper our career and relationships. It is from this hypothesis that the dark triad of personality was conceptualized, which comprises of machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. 

Personality Dynamics

The major constituents of narcissism as identified by Paulhus and Williams are grandiosity, dominance, entitlement, and superiority. Impulsivity, thrill seeking attitude, lack of empathy and decreased anxiety integrates into one’s impulsive personality and cynicism and interpersonal manipulation constitutes machiavellianism. Apart from these three traits, sadism is also considered to be included in the negative factors of personality, which led to the formulation of dark tetrad. However, research is still going on in further validation of sadism as a part of dark personality traits.

Openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism are considered to be the big five personality traits which are believed to be the most significant predictors of one’s personality. Thus personality assessment in most sectors gives importance to these five personality traits. So it would be appreciable if we explore the association of various big five traits with dark triad so that assessment of big five factors could facilitate an exploration of negative traits in individuals being assessed so that personnel selection and other implications of personality testing could be executed rigorously.

How Dark Triad Traits are related with Big Five Factors?

There have been several attempts made to investigate the association between dark triad and big five factors of personality. Odiakosa in 2008 examined the relationship between dark triads and big five traits and identified that extraversion is high in individuals who are high on machiavellianism and psychopathy whereas they were low on agreeableness. A similar negative correlation was found between narcissism and agreeableness in a study conducted by Paulhus and Williams in 2002 but it was not validated in the 2008 study. The study by Paulhus and Williams had also unveiled an inverse relationship of conscientiousness with machiavellianism and psychopathy.

Another study conducted in 2016 also identified a negative association between machiavellianism and agreeableness. The research further determined that psychopathy will decrease with increase in agreeableness and conscientiousness while showing a positive relationship with extraversion. In the same study, narcissism was found to be positively associated with extraversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness.

Other studies have also supported the negative correlation of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism with all three traits of dark triad as well as a positive relationship with extraversion. In summary, results obtained from research conducted to determine the association between dark triad and five factor model of personality are in alignment with each other.

Complexities of Human Behavior

Thus, throwing light on to past research, the relationship of dark triad and big five traits could be determined in the following manner. The dark triad indicates a negative association with openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Neuroticism is specifically low in toxic as such individuals seem to be less anxious and thrill seeking. On the other hand, the dark triad of personality is found be having a positive relationship with extraversion. Thereby we can outline a strong association of dark triad with five factor model which necessitates the role of dark triad assessment and evaluation in determining the complete personality of an individual.

However, it shouldn’t be regarded that individuals high on dark triad are harmful to the society or only those high on big five traits are acceptable. As was identified in previous research, our adaptive functioning is dependent on both dark triad and big five traits. Though big five factors, except neuroticism, are usually regarded as positive aspects of personality and crucial for a manageable lifestyle, dark triad could also have a positive impact on our lives if followed judiciously.

The Dual Nature of Personality Traits

It has been proven in previous studies that high narcissism increases our self-esteem and self-efficacy. Similarly, though harmful for our adaptivity, machiavellianism can aid in improving our practical skills and contextual performance. Moreover, big five traits could also be negative at times as is evident when individuals with high conscientiousness encounter problems in relationships and work when they become highly rigid and perfectionist. Thus, it should be ensured that no individual is stereotyped with a psychological label on his personality and shouldn’t be treated accordingly. Besides, how our personality should be molded and to what extent each trait should be manifested could ultimately be decided by our own conscience and could be brought under our regulation with proper and systematic training and personality development. Or else, dark triad can have a daunting effect on one’s personal and professional life.

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