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This personality factor drives people to be malicious
What do ruthless egoists, sadists, exploiters, oppressors and psychopaths have in common? European researchers were able to attribute many negative personality traits to a fundamental principle. This newly discovered D-factor (dark factor) seems to drive evil in humans.
Evil slumbers in some people. This is not the introduction to a new horror film, but the result of a study by a research team from Ulm, Landau and Copenhagen. The psychologists were able to identify common personality traits between people that are generally perceived as malicious. The results of their investigation were recently published in the journal “Psychological Review”.
The alliance of evil
The researchers analyzed nine personality traits that have been linked to malicious behavior, including egoism, spitefulness, machiavellianism, moral disinhibition, narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, self-centeredness, and exaggerated pretentiousness. In particular, the researchers were able to identify two traits that promote these malignant drives in humans and help ensure that they are put into practice.
What is the root of evil?
"The core component of this dark factor of personality is an exaggerated egoism that has negative effects on others or society in general," explains Professor Morten Moshagen, head of the department of psychological research methods at the University of Ulm, in a press release on the study results. But according to the study, it's not just selfishness. Only if this is accompanied by strong persuasiveness can guilt, remorse and moral scruples be prevented. A perfect breeding ground for evil.
When people walk over dead bodies
The psychologists see the combination of selfishness and conviction as an extreme form of individual benefit maximization that lets people go over dead bodies. The owners of these two personality traits willingly or even deliberately accept that their actions will harm others. Feelings of guilt and scruples are justified by your own conviction and thus nipped in the bud.
Do "bad people" have more in common than expected?
In addition, the researchers report that people with these two characteristics who already have a personality disorder such as narcissism are also likely to show more pronounced Machiavellian and psychopathic traits. "Statistically speaking, people with a strong D-factor are highly likely to become criminal or violent or otherwise violate social rules," the psychologists report.
A meaningful factor for problematic behavior
According to the researchers, the D-factor is a meaningful concept, with the help of which problematic personality traits can be brought down to a common denominator. "The D-factor is a good indicator for predicting selfish and dishonest behavior," explains Copenhagen psychologist Ingo Zettler. The D factor is far more meaningful than the individual specific properties such as the presence of narcissism.
Negative behavior rarely comes alone
The psychology experts also found that problematic behaviors can manifest themselves in several different forms if a person has a high D factor. "To put it bluntly, you could say that if a boss enjoys cleaning his employees down, the likelihood is high that he will also use his business partners, evade taxes or cheat on his wife," summarizes Moshagen.
How did the researchers come to the results
In the comprehensive study, more than 2,500 people answered an extensive questionnaire. They also had to undergo certain psychological tests. For example, the participants in a game could gain advantages by lying. In another game, the test subjects were able to distribute money to themselves and others in a self-determined amount. In this way, the psychologists were able to record problematic behaviors such as dishonesty, among other things.
What is your D-factor?
The psychologists have provided a free English-language online test to determine your own D-factor. If you want to determine your potential for malice, you can find the test at https://qst.darkfactor.org/. (vb)