Understanding the D-Factor in Analyzing Dark Personality Traits

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Understanding the D-Factor in Analyzing Dark Personality Traits

Narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism are all dark personality / Photo by Getty Images


Some people act differently from others which make them difficult to deal with. They appear to be volatile, domineering or arrogant. At some point, being with them can be seriously damaging and toxic, not just to your relationship, but also to your individual well-being. 

Psychologists have already identified the Dark Triad - narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism - all are described as dark personalities because of their malevolent qualities. However, these traits go deeper and even darker. 

The Dark Core of Personality

Most people would probably cringe or protest vehemently when they are associated with negativity. Having a dark personality means having less empathetic personality than others. They exhibit uncommon and negative traits that are difficult to understand. Thus, they are often misunderstood and discriminated by many people. For instance, sociopaths and psychopaths are mostly portrayed as mass murderers and serial killers in movies, books, and television shows. 

In a research conducted by Morten Moshagen, Benjamin E. Hilbig, and Ingo Zettler, they further defined dark personalities and have found out that they are also associated with other negative traits. The researchers revealed that the Dark Triad along with egoism (a focus on one's own achievements), sadism (pleasure from hurting others), spitefulness (the desire for revenge, even at one's own expense), moral disengagement (the belief that ethical rules don't apply to oneself), psychological entitlement (the belief that one deserves more than others), and self-interest are closely linked with each other. Meaning, if someone happens to have one of these traits, he/she is more likely to have one or more dark traits. 

Understanding the D-Factor

The research also showed a common denominator of all dark traits - the D-Factor.  According to Insider, D-Factor is the  "general tendency to maximize one's individual utility — disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others — accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications."

For instance, a person who does better in mathematics can also do well in verbal ability or spatial reasoning. Surprisingly, the D-Factor can do be a good predictor of success, career, and even health. 

The D-Factor indicates how someone tends to be above others to the extent of hurting others. Researchers found out that understanding the D-Factor of a particular person can determine if he/she exhibits a dark personality trait. Ingo Zettler, Professor of Psychology at the University of Copenhagen, along with Morten Moshagen from Ulm University and Benjamin E. Hilbig from the University of Koblenz-Landau, showed how D-Factor is common in the following dark personalities - feeling less empathetic, taking pleasure from hurting others, manipulation, and the tendency to inflict mental or physical harm. 

To further understand the D-Factor, the researchers conducted a series of studies which was participated by 2,500 people. They associated their research with how psychologist Charles Spearman showed how people who garnered high scores in an intelligence test can also score highly in other types of intelligence tests. Ingo explained that dark personality traits that can be found in humans also have a common denominator. "For example, in a given person, the D-factor can mostly manifest itself as narcissism, psychopathy or one of the other dark traits, or a combination of these. But with our mapping of the common denominator of the various dark personality traits, one can simply ascertain that the person has a high D-factor. This is because the D-factor indicates how likely a person is to engage in behavior associated with one or more of these dark traits," he added. 


The D-factor indicates how one tends to be above others to the extent of hurting them / Photo by Getty Images


D-Factor as a Useful Tool

Moreover, the D-Factor clearly indicates that if a person demonstrated a particular malevolent behavior, they are more likely to engage in other malevolent activities such as lying, cheating, or stealing. It also involved the tendency of a person to their own motives and interests above anything else. 

Understanding the dark core of human personality plays a major role in understanding why a certain person exhibits malevolent behaviors and how they can potentially acquire other negative personality traits. The researchers also see D-Factor as an opportunity to know if someone will re-offend or engage in a more harmful behavior. 

Dealing With a Dark Personality

First, people must be aware that a person who exhibits dark personality traits can be difficult to deal with. One should have an extra effort and patience interacting with them because most of the time, they are good at instilling doubt, anger, and shame.

According to Learning Mind, a person interacting with people who have dark personality traits should stay aware of what they feel. Anger is unhealthy if not well-managed and they, most likely, want to manipulate you. One thing that people should also understand is that you have no ability to change them. They will continue taking pleasure in somebody's failure and will do anything to sabotage one's success even it means hurting them.

It will also be helpful to decide whether they are healthy to be with in the long run. If continuing your relationship with them might harm your overall well-being, draw your boundaries immediately and know where you stand. 



Jaspearl Tan

D Is for Evil: The Dark Factor of Personality