The Light Triad of Personality

The Light Triad of Personality


Humans can never be seen as being black or white; they are always in shades of grey. We are never completely good or bad, we exist on the continuum between the two. Earlier, most of the studies focused on the dark side of humanity, but recently the focus has shifted to exploring the good side of humans. THE LIGHT TRIAD of personality is one of the important developments in that direction. 


The light triad of personality was developed by Scott Barry Kaufman, David Yaden, Elizabeth Hyde, and Eli Tsukayama in 2019 as somewhat counter to the dark triad of personality, which included items like narcissism – being selfish, Machiavellianism – being cunning or deceitful, and psychopathy  – lack of empathy. All of these characteristics only focus on the bad side of human nature. While these studies are important, they do not include people who are generally nice in their everyday lives, and who are kind to other people in their daily lives. This is what the light triad tries to discover: it focuses on human nature’s goodness. The light triad scale was administered to thousands of people of different age groups, ethnicities,  genders, and races, making the scale more reliable and valid. 

What is Included in the Light Triad 

  • Do you believe that everyone in the world is good? 
  • Do you think everyone deserves to be treated with respect, no matter where they come from? 
  • Do you talk to people only because they are useful to you in some way or another? 

These are the things that are included in the light triad of personality. The three dimensions studied in the test, namely – Humanism, Faith in Humanity and Kantianism paint a picture of your overall personality. The light triad measures how much goodness you have in yourself, and how much you believe in yourself and others. It does not mean someone who publicly does a lot of charity or makes grand gestures, but someone who respects everyone despite their background or someone who talks to and befriends people without any ulterior motives.

The three dimensions of the light triad  

The three dimensions studied in the triad are – 

  • Faith in humanity: the belief that generally, every person is good, and if given the right help, people can change and become better. For example – you believe that people are most of the time good and they will help and support one another, people who might have done wrong can be helped to become good. 
  • Humanity: It is the idea that everyone deserves to be treated with respect despite their background, age, qualification, or any other difference. For example – you don’t discriminate between people who are different and treat everyone with equal respect and care. 
  • Kantianism: It is the belief that people should be treated as ends in themselves rather than means to your ends. For example – you think that every individual has value, and they do not just exist to help you reach your goal. 

The dark triad vs. the light triad  

It is often thought that the light triad is the opposite of the dark triad, but this is not exactly true. In the research, it was found that the total dark triad score and total light triad score had a correlation of -48, which is a moderately negative correlation. In simple words, it means that these variables are correlated to each other but are not exactly opposite to each other, which means scoring low on the dark triad does not mean a high score on the light triad. 

What does a high score on the light triad mean 

People who score high on the light triad tend to have a stable childhood, a high level of spirituality,  are overall satisfied with their lives, are compassionate, and are more empathetic and open-minded. Those who have higher scores on the light triad traits also have higher self-esteem; they are more authentic and have a stronger sense of self than others. The light triad primarily focuses on intimacy and thinking beyond yourself. 

The light triad of personality provides insights into traits like kindness, respect, empathy, compassion,  etc., highlighting the goodness within all of us. There is both light and dark within all of us; this is what the findings of the light triad scale tell us. Just as bad exists, so does good. We are all shades of grey, it seems. The light triad tries to find balance in the study of personality, focusing on the bright side of human nature. Just like selfish people exist in the world, some people are kind and respectful to everyone and help others without expecting anything in return. The light triad of personality focuses on these traits in humans.  

References +
  • Oakes, K. (2022, February 24). The ‘light triad’ that can make you a good person.
  • Kaufman, S. B. (2019, March 28). Introducing the light triad. Scott Barry Kaufman.
  • Simply Psychology. (2024b, January 29). Light triad of personality.,empathy%2C%20and%20open%2Dmindedness.
  • Schley, L. (2020, May 19). The Light Triad: Psychologists outline the personality traits of everyday saints. Discover Magazine.

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