The Dark Triad is a combination of three personality traits: narcissism (heightened sense of self-importance), Machiavellianism (manipulativeness), and psychopathy (low empathy). Some research has also proposed adding a fourth trait, sadism (deriving pleasure from others pain and a greater tendency to inflict pain on others), to this model to create a "dark tetrad."
Studies have shown that women prefer men with dark triad traits, especially in short-term mating contexts, and that both men and women high in the dark triad tend to report more lifetime sexual partners. Research has also shown the greater female attraction to these men, and their higher romantic success is not fully explained by men high in the dark triad being more extroverted, confident, or physically attractive, though these traits may also be more pronounced in such men. A female preference for such may be explained by their preference for high-status men (see hypergamy), which is partly derived from them seeking protection from a dominant man. The dark triad traits do seem to be linked to higher status drive, and characteristics linked to the dark triad (such as fearless dominance) do seem to predict higher status in men when other specific conditions are met, together with the these "successful psychopaths" potentially differing in socially valued personality traits compared to less successful ones.
Alternative explanations for women's attraction to Dark Triad men and these men's generally higher level of sexual success include these men's greater willingness to engage in sexual coercion, their more effective self-presentation, their greater willingness to engage in other behaviors associated with sexual success in men and higher peer status, such as bullying, together with their general tendency towards deceiving and manipulating women. This deception often appears to take the form of Dark Triad men lying about their willingness to invest in prospective female partners and exaggerating their level of social status and resources; recent research does provide mixed support for this 'exploitation' hypothesis.
The relationships of individuals high in the dark triad may simply be prone to dissolution and conflict, which will inflate their sexual partner count throughout the lifespan; this does seem to be the case to some degree. Evidence for this is that there is moderate assortative mating for the dark triad (so they will mate more often with other people with a similar short-term mating orientation), that people high in the dark triad are more attentive to potential extra-dyadic romantic options, and that greater psychopathy in men seems to weakly negatively affect women's relationship satisfaction, perhaps owing to these men's lower level of parental investment. The dark triad traits, especially psychopathy, are also related to a lower orientation towards long-term mating in general. It seems that the dark triad traits are also associated with lower levels of sexual disgust (particularly among psychopathic men with higher mate value) and psychopathy seems to be associated with lower standards in regards to potential sexual partners. Thus men high in psychopathy, in particular, are more likely to engage in high-risk promiscuous behaviors and exhibit lower standards for potential romantic partners as well as being more prone to rapidly dissolve these relationships when their desire for sexual variety is sated.
Much of the research into the dark triad reveals that this construct, in an evolutionary sense, may stem from evolutionary adaptions that drive an overall exploitative, selfish, irresponsible, and parasitic approach to social and sexual relationships. Therefore, the Dark Triad can essentially be characterized by traits that represent a "free-rider" evolutionary strategy that is also generally associated with a faster life history speed. In particular, trait psychopathy seems robustly linked with a faster life history strategy, with the other traits perhaps being differentially associated with life history strategy.
Psychological measurement of the Dark Triad[edit | edit source]
The "Dirty Dozen" is a scoring tool for quickly quantifying if one has Dark Triad traits. It is a condensed version of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Mach-IV, and Psychopathy Scale-III. The test is scored based on one's answers to the following items, with more positive responses indicating a greater level of Dark Triad traits:
- I tend to manipulate others to get my way.
- I tend to lack remorse.
- I tend to want others to admire me.
- I tend to be unconcerned with the morality of my actions.
- I have used deceit or lied to get my way.
- I tend to be callous or insensitive.
- I have used flattery to get my way.
- I tend to seek prestige or status.
- I tend to be cynical.
- I tend to exploit others toward my own end.
- I tend to expect special favors from others.
- I want others to pay attention to me.
The three traits[edit | edit source]
Several mainstream academic, peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that women are sexually attracted to men who exhibit Dark Triad traits, likely because of women's evolutionary history. In practice these traits essentially allude to the following behavioral traits which help an alpha male stand out from his beta brethren:
Narcissism[edit | edit source]
Putting one's wants before others' needs. Projecting a high self-image. Vanity. Entitlement. Excessive self-love.
Machiavellianism[edit | edit source]
Deceitfulness, cynicism and the tendency to see people as mere 'pawns' to be manipulated for your own benefit. Power at almost any cost.
Psychopathy[edit | edit source]
Callous affect and low empathy. Not caring about what society thinks of you and only thinking about what will benefit yourself. Not being able to feel empathy. Compulsive lying and total disregard for authority and morality. High arousal threshold, requiring high levels of stimulation (i.e. excessive drug use, compulsive gambling, casual sex). Violent and anti-social behavior.
Male psychopaths tend to be aggressive and criminal, behavior that is seen at least 10-15 more often in males than in females. Female psychopaths rather manipulate, flirt and exhibit self-injury which is often diagnosed as histrionic and borderline personality disorder. Histrionic disorder, on the other hand, is comparably rare among men.
Evidence of women's greater attraction towards men high in the Dark Triad[edit | edit source]
Not a byproduct of extroversion[edit | edit source]
In a study women were presented with male characters of varying degrees of Dark Triad personality. Physicality was held constant. Men with Dark Triad traits were dramatically more attractive to women compared to control characters who lacked these traits (with 99.9% statistical certainty). Furthermore, the attractiveness of these Dark Traits was not explained by other characteristics like extroversion.
Thus it seems apparent that while personality does matter to women, it does not matter in the ways they claim. Contrary to popular claims that women want a "nice, caring guy," in actual fact, they are most sexually attracted and aroused by narcissistic, manipulative, and psychopathic men.
This likely has a basis in evolutionary biology, as Dark Triad traits may have helped provide a competitive edge to men in difficult times, for example, by allowing a man to kill others for resources. Another possible explanation is that violent, manipulative or narcissistic behavior is an honest signal of exceptionally good erotic capital (i.e good looks) high social status or financial capital, as such a person who possesses these traits can 'get away' with behaving in such a manner.
Women are attracted to psychopathic men[edit | edit source]
Brazil & Forth conducted a naturalistic experiment where women were instructed to view a short interaction between a series of women and men (N = 46) who were matched on attractiveness (as judged by third-party raters). Controlling for physical attractiveness, women generally judged the men higher in psychopathy (as measured by psychometric tests) as more attractive. Additionally, in a second follow-up study, women were instructed to imagine that they were leaving the men voice messages, asking for a date. It was found that women's voiced pitch was higher (seen by the authors to represent a somewhat objective measure of women's attraction to the males), in response to greater levels of certain facets of psychopathy in the males.
Evidence of Dark Triad men being more sexually successful[edit | edit source]
Cluster-B personality disorders lead to 3.5x as many sexual partners and more offspring[edit | edit source]
Guitiérrez et al. (2013) conducted a study in order to determine if the various personality disorder clusters - Type A (Schizoid, Odd), Type B (Narcissistic, Anti-social) and Type C (Avoidant, OCD) - were solely detrimental in terms of life outcomes for the individuals with these personality disorders (PDs), or if they instead presented those who bear these conditions with various potentially adaptive benefits, such as greater sexual and social opportunities.
A sample of psychiatric outpatients were presented with a questionnaire designed to measure the presence and intensity of the ten personality disorders, and a further questionnaire was also administered, that was designed to broadly measure various life outcomes such as number of sexual partners, employment, income, and health.
While finding that in general, PDs were resulting in more negative life outcomes broadly, there were some potentially evolutionary adaptive benefits that seemed to accrue to bearers of these disorders.
Namely, those individuals high in type-B personality cluster traits (Narcissism, Anti-Social, Borderline, Histrionic) of both sexes has 3.5x as many mates as low B subjects, with five times as many short-term mates and twice as many long term mates. It was also found that those higher in cluster B had 39% more offspring then those lower in cluster B traits.
Thus it can be surmised that these personality traits, with all their concomitant negative outcomes; both for the bearers of these disorders and their potential victims, are most likely being significantly sexually selected for in various modern societies.
Narcissism[edit | edit source]
There is general line of evidence that suggests that narcissism is associated with sexual success and female-rated male desirability. For example, Borráz-León & Rantala (2021) found evidence of significant correlations between the various dark triad traits and lifetime sex partner count and (self-reported) mate value in university students of both sexes. In this sample, narcissism correlated weakly with the lifetime number of sex partners for men (r = .217). This finding is perhaps evidence more of greater promiscuity among people higher in these traits and not necessarily higher mate value among these individuals; however, some evidence suggests that narcissism is associated with desirability in both sexes.
Speed dating evidence (Jauk et al., 2016) indicates that narcissistic women are viewed as more desirable partners. This male attraction to female narcissism was entirely mediated by narcissistic women being generally more physically attractive (interestingly, this same study provides evidence that psychopathy is positively associated with physical attractiveness in women. As narcissism and psychopathy positively correlate moderately, it is not known how much of this correlation is attributable to trait psychopathy alone). In light of this finding, it is easy to see how narcissistic women would be more prone to physical self-enhancement (more assiduous use of cosmetics, dieting, etc.) Moreover, given the strong association between female beauty and their sexual desirability, one could also clearly see how physical attractiveness boosts women's narcissism in some cases.
In males, on the other hand, while narcissism seems to be also associated with greater male desirability in speed-dating contexts, it is unclear to what extent narcissism is directly attractive as a personality trait, as other (generally) socially desirable characteristics such as extraversion and confidence are associated with narcissism. Juak et al. discovered no firm evidence of narcissism being associated with greater physical attractiveness in males, but other research has contradicted this particular finding.
However, some evidence does suggest that women are generally attracted to male narcissism own its own to some degree. Haslam & Montrose (2015) surveyed 146 British females asking them to rate their agreement with a series of statements intended to measure their attraction to narcissism in a potential male partner. The statements were based on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), a psychological test designed to measure the level of sub-clinical narcissism in an individual. In other words, how narcissistic someone is as a personality trait as compared to as a personality "disorder", which is known as NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). They found:
- Women wishing to get married were more attracted to the narcissistic male personality (mean rank = 77.82) than those not desiring marriage (mean rank = 59.81). Most women desired marriage in this sample.
- Highly promiscuous women (women with more than 21 partners) were significantly more attracted to the narcissistic male personality. This may be evidence for assortative mating for dark triad traits, though it contradicts the claim that more sexually experienced women would tend to avoid narcissistic men due to greater experience with the averse aspects that said traits can have on relationship stability. It could simply be explained by such women being more erotophilic (responsive to sexual cues) in general.
- These findings were despite evidence that suggests narcissistic mates are more likely to be unfaithful, and narcissism is associated with a lack of relational commitment.
While this study indicates that women may generally exhibit an ideal preference for a male with a highly narcissistic personality, this may not be directly transferable to the actual mate choices they make. There is little research on the effects narcissism (specifically) has on female perceptions of males in contexts that have more ecological validity. However, there is a decent body of evidence that sheds some light on how narcissism may affect long-term relationships.
Lavner et al. (2016) found evidence that, in married couples, certain facets of male narcissism were predictive of higher quality marriages, while the opposite effect was found among women. This study provides weak evidence that suggests women are drawn to, or at least tolerate, narcissistic traits in men, while men do not generally desire narcissistic wives. Lavner et al. also found assortative mating effects in terms of cross-spouse narcissism were weak (a finding that has been replicated in subsequent research). This weak effect suggests that this positive effect for male narcissism and superior marriage outcomes was not fully explicable by greater compatibility in terms of personality between the spouses. These findings also contradict claims that narcissism is associated with higher mate value and superior social perceptions solely due to narcissists' (initial) superior self-presentation. These enhanced perceptions of narcissists are argued to diminish over time as people become aware of their "true nature," generally comprised of exploitativeness, conceit and selfishness. This argument has been dubbed the "chocolate cake model of narcissism" (the analogy is that chocolate cake is enjoyable to indulge in occasionally but not consistently over a long period). Other research has indicated that narcissism is associated with lower perceived relationship quality, but that again, only women's narcissism was linked to greater relationship dissatisfaction in their male partners.
This sex gap in long-term relationships among narcissists may be driven by the fact that narcissistic women were more psychologically abusive, i.e., more nagging, manipulative, and overall nastier. In men, narcissism was associated with their own perceptions of lower-relationship quality, but not their female partners. This research is also interesting because narcissistic men were also more psychologically abusive (though likely less than narcissistic women as women were more psychologically abusive overall in this study), and seemingly more disposed towards infidelity (at least in terms of infidelity promoting cognitions).
These findings suggest that women, at least, have a robust tendency to tolerate high levels of narcissism in their male partners. In contrast, men do not tend to accept the same in their female partners (at least in the context of long-term relationships). There is also evidence that suggests that the divergent forms of narcissism in males may have differing effects on the quality of their long-term relationship. In partnered men, "narcissistic admiration" (bold, self-aggrandizing narcissism) was weakly predictive of their female partner's perceptions of the quality of the relationship, whereas "narcissistic rivalry" (in this context, the tendency to perceive threats to one's inflated self-image from one's partner) negatively predictive women's perceptions of the same. Thus, at least in the context of committed relationships, women may generally prefer grandiose and not vulnerable (neurotic) narcissism.
There is, however, some weak evidence that the degree of narcissism of partnered women is also associated with men's positive perceptions of them. Zajenkowski & Gignac (2020), for example, found that narcissistic women were more often viewed as being highly intelligent by their male partners. Interestingly, in this sample, narcissism was actually (weakly) positively associated with women's objectively measured IQ, whereas there was no relationship between IQ and narcissism in men. This study found narcissistic women were more likely to select male partners perceived as more intelligent. The researchers attempted to explain this finding by recourse to the argument that women tend to favor higher social status in men (at least in the context of long-term relationships), whereas males select more for physical attractiveness in their partners. In concordance with the above research findings, greater relationship length did not seem to negatively affect women's positive perceptions of their narcissistic partner's interpersonal traits.
Other research has indicated that women high in the dark triad traits are especially attracted to men high in narcissism. This finding is in accordance with research that finds there is a general disposition among assortative mating for the dark triad traits (people with similar characteristics tending to partner with each other). Burtaverde (2021) found evidence that suggested that this preference for narcissistic males was, oddly, strongest among women that were both high in the dark triad and also more prone to pursuing a long-term mating strategy. However, psychopathic women that had previous experiences of infidelity were less attracted to narcissistic men, likely due to bitterness on their behalf, as narcissism does seem to promote infidelity in men, as noted above. This finding suggests that the dark triad may not be wholly associated with a fast life history strategy, and that narcissism, at least in some instances, may be related to a slower life history strategy. In addition, less promiscuous women may be more attracted to these men as narcissism seems linked to status drive and social status in men, traits that women who are more interested in more committed, stable relationships may be more attentive towards.
Narcissism and phenotypic quality[edit | edit source]
Some preliminary evidence suggests that narcissism, in particular, is associated with higher levels of total body symmetry and higher testosterone levels in men (and greater phenotypic masculinity), which seem to be physiological traits that are linked to mate value. The narcissism T link in men is likely because narcissism, as a trait, essentially relates to status drive (self-presentation, excessive concern with what others think about oneself and so on) and attention to social cues pertaining to one's and other's peer status, and T has been argued to be a primary mediating factor in determining male status drive.
Vulnerable narcissism[edit | edit source]
Compared to grandiose narcissism[edit | edit source]
Vulnerable narcissism is a proposed form of the narcissistic personality characterized by the typical high-self regard and entitlement of narcissism combined with "vulnerable" traits such as hypersensitivity, introversion, neuroticism, shyness, and somewhat paradoxically, low self-esteem. Unlike grandiose narcissists, who are typically ostentatious and direct in their boasts and more overtly dominant in social interactions, vulnerable narcissists are said to be prone to timidity, insecurity, and passive-aggressive behavior when their ego is threatened (unlike the more overtly aggressive behaviors that grandiose narcissism is often characterized by).
Most psychological research into narcissism has focused on grandiose narcissism, with vulnerable narcissism being neglected in the literature. However, this is changing, and there has been quite a lot of recent research on vulnerable narcissism, its relation to grandiose narcissism, and other psychological constructs and disorders.
In terms of the underlying traits that distinguish the two forms of narcissism, grandiose narcissism seems to be associated with behavioral disinhibition, genuine and stable high self-concept, extraversion, and higher emotional stability. On the other hand, vulnerable narcissism is mainly associated with and predicted by neuroticism (the tendency to experience negative emotions intensely). Miller et al. (2017), using various research methodologies, including analyses of self-report and other rated personality profiles, found that vulnerable narcissism correlated highly with neuroticism (r = .66-.8). In this series of studies, neuroticism essentially predicted most of the variance in vulnerable narcissism among participants. The rest of the variance was attributable to antagonism (low agreeableness) and introversion. Previously, Miller et al. (2010) had attempted to establish the construct validity of narcissism. He discovered evidence for a two-factor model of narcissism and a complete lack of nomological convergence between the distinct forms of narcissism (so they are different constructs associated with distinct external behavioral manifestations).
Relationship to relationship quality[edit | edit source]
Miller's series of studies found evidence for a difference in attachment style between the two forms of narcissism, with grandiose narcissists typically being dismissively or securely attached. Vulnerable narcissists were more likely to exhibit insecure attachment styles (neediness). These differences in attachment style via narcissism may imply that grandiose narcissism would be expected to be related to more stable long-term relationships. In contrast, the relationships of vulnerable narcissists may be characterized by instability. Previous research has indicated that certain facets of narcissism in husbands may positively predict the quality of their long-term relationships. Other research has demonstrated that this superior adjustment and relationship quality found among (male) narcissists is entirely mediated by self-esteem, with such effects being non-existent when self-esteem is partialed out.
As vulnerable narcissists seem to lack a robust commitment to a high-self image, this would suggest that their relationships would be much more likely to be characterized by dissatisfaction and dissolution compared to grandiose narcissists. This effect would perhaps be strongest among vulnerable narcissist men, who frequently exhibit anxious attachment styles, which appear associated with lower relationship quality and stability. Conversely, when grandiose narcissists do deign to enter into committed sexual relationships (as the bulk of the evidence suggests that narcissism is associated with greater promiscuity and an emphasis on casual mating), the quality of their relationships may be higher. These more stable relationships may be due to these men's general higher positive affect, a female preference for confident or dominant men, an association between grandiose narcissism and higher social status, and other attractiveness-related factors. It may also simply be down to the fact that these men may select women with anxious attachment styles who are more submissive and prone towards "worshipping" such men.
This stronger selection for subordinate female partners on behalf of grandiose narcissists is suggested by relationships between avoidantly attached men (a typical attachment style among grandiose narcissists) and anxiously attached women seeming to be very stable, despite being also characterized by low evaluations of the quality of these relationships both parties. This finding indicates an exploitative and emotionally distant stance on behalf of grandiose narcissistic men in relationships and tendencies towards feelings of rejection on their female partners, accompanied by a strong attachment to these men that persists in light of these relationship issues.
Relation to negative affect[edit | edit source]
Miller et al. also found that vulnerable narcissism was moderately related to negative affect (depression, anxiety, poor well-being). No significant relationships between grandiose narcissism and affect were found.
While narcissism has typically been portrayed as being a phenomenon associated with a grandiose facade that often conceals deep insecurity, this finding suggests that vulnerable narcissism may not be a form of narcissism at all but just a form of psychopathology centered around fragility and a propensity to experience negative affect, together with a tendency towards mood swings and general social maladaptation, similar to borderline personality disorder.
Vulnerable narcissism and inceldom[edit | edit source]
Many high-profile involuntary celibates, most notably Elliot Rodger, have been categorized as vulnerable narcissists. To the extent involuntary celibates exhibit narcissism, it would be expected to be the vulnerable kind, if only because professing to be incel in the first place is admitting to low status and may be generally reflective of low self-esteem. Expectancy effects and social reinforcement may also play a role, while acting in an overtly boastful nature may be associated with favorable impressions at first acquaintance, one would also expect low-status men to be more likely to invite adverse social reactions in response to such bombast. Thus, men who exhibit latent narcissistic traits but are also socially undesirable may be pushed into concealing these traits, leading to vulnerable narcissism.
In terms of the relationship between vulnerable narcissism and social desirability, video rating research shows that while grandiose narcissism is associated with favorable first impressions (as other research has found), vulnerable narcissism isn't (but it isn't related to disfavorable impressions either). However, in the longer term, displaying vulnerable narcissistic traits may serve to lower men's peer status, perhaps particularly in all-male social contexts. Anderson et al. (2001) found that among certain all-male social circles, such as college fraternities, the traits strongly associated with vulnerable narcissism such as neuroticism and introversion were associated with lower peer status among men. As the majority of dating behavior still takes place in the context of pre-established social circles and male intrasexual competition appears to play a role in deciding male sexual access in such contexts, one would therefore expect traits that inhibit the attainment of high peer status among men to also be associated with involuntary celibacy to some extent.
However, preliminary research into the effects of similar personality constructs and male sexual success, such as borderline personality disorder, indicates that men who exhibit these broad traits tend to be quite promiscuous and not more likely to be sexless than women with the same condition. Interestingly, this study also found that BPD men were much likely to be bisexual/homosexual. Together with the high promiscuity of borderline individuals, this finding may suggest that they are disproportionately composed of individuals that exhibit a fast-life history strategy which may explain their greater promiscuity. This is also suggested by the link between BPD and childhood sexual abuse, as childhood sexual abuse seems to often accelerate life history speed, though this effect may be contained to women. As vulnerable narcissism and BPD seem somewhat nomologically distinct, it is possible that they lack these fast life history adaptions and may concurrently be prone to experiencing lower sexual success. Some evidence for this may be provided by the fact that the traits found among vulnerable narcissists seem to be generally harmful to successfully achieving a fast life history strategy, characteristics such as introversion, strong sensitivity to rejection, avoidant personality, and experiencing greater allostatic load in response to perceived social rejection or dominance contests (in this context, physiological damage caused by elevated stress hormones).
Alternate explanations[edit | edit source]
The Dark Triad and exploiting female mate choice[edit | edit source]
It is frequently claimed that Dark Triad men are more attractive to women, not out of an overt female preference for "bad boys", but because their superficial charm allows them to deceive others in regards to their interpersonal characteristics: V. Mehta notes:
Carter and his colleagues offer two possible explanations. First, sexual selection might be at work. This would mean that women are responding to signals of "male quality" when it comes to reproduction. And with respect to short-term mating, women may be drawn to 'bad boys,' who demonstrate confidence, stubbornness, and risk-taking tendencies. Second, sexual conflict may be at play. The investigators state that "Women may be responding to DT men's ability to 'sell themselves'; a useful tactic in a co-evolutionary 'arms race' in which men convince women to pursue the former's preferred sexual strategy." They note that like a "used-car dealer," Dark Triad men may be effective charmers and manipulators, furthering their success at short-term mating. The authors are also careful to note that though women rated the DT character as comparatively more attractive, it does not necessarily mean that they would have sex with them.
The Dark Triad and greater mating effort[edit | edit source]
Dark triad men also have a higher overall level of mating effort due to their higher self-esteem and lack of impulse control. Those higher in certain aspects of the Dark Triad tend to focus on short-term mating over more committed relationships. The Dark Triad is generally associated with a fast life history strategy, which represents biological tendency to focus physiological resources and conscious effort on short term mating, and generally eschewing longer-term, more committed relationships. This heavy focus on short-term mating would be expected to result in a much higher lifetime sexual partner count for such men. However, there is also evidence linking specific leadership related facets of the Dark Triad (such as narcissistic exhibitionism, leadership, and psychopathic fearless dominance) to a slower life history strategy, with this research implying that the main facets of the Dark Triad that can be linked to a faster life history speed are a willingness to engage in short term mating, aggressive behavior, and manipulativeness.
The Dark Triad and sexual coercion[edit | edit source]
A faster life history speed and the Dark Triad itself are also robustly associated with the willingness to employ sexual coercion. Thus, men high in the Dark Triad are more likely to subvert female mate choice by engaging in rape or other forms of sexual coercion. It has been shown that a tendency to engage in domestic violence typically results in high levels of in-pair copulation and that women who are the victims of a successful rape regularly report engaging in further acts of sexual intercourse with their rapist subsequent to the act. This implies a natural female tendency to submit to male coercion, with the late prominent ethnologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt arguing that this represents an ancestral, deeply rooted adaption that makes women desire a man to overcome their natural reluctance and display a willingness to coerce her into sex, in a fashion similar to what one sees with many animal species. This adaptation is argued to evolve in fast-life strategists as by overpowering the female, the male evidences his physical strength and high status. Thus Dark Triads men's willingness to be sexually coercive and violent may result in them generally attaining greater sexual access to women, somewhat independent of female choice. However, fast-life strategic women may also outright expose themselves to highly dominant men capable of overpowering them which as been explained by bodyguard hypothesis which states women desire a dominant partner as they require protection in an unpredictable, fast-life environment.
Assortative mating for the Dark Triad[edit | edit source]
Another possible explanation regarding certain women's attraction towards the Dark Triad traits is the claim that there exists "assortative mating" for these traits. Like with many other human traits e.g., race, physical attractiveness, income, education, etc., there exists some evidence that women with higher levels of Dark Triad traits are more strongly drawn to men that are also higher in these traits: "We found assortative preferences for all Dark Triad traits in long-term mating, and assortative preferences for Machiavellianism and psychopathy in short-term mating. Our study is the first one to suggest that the sexual success of high Dark Triad males may be driven by assortative mate choice by women with the same characteristics."  However, somewhat contrary to this hypothesis, Plomin & Dreary (2015), only found evidence of a weak (0.10) assortative mating correlation for psychopathology, which is much weaker than that observed between married couples for intelligence (0.40).
Another study that examined the effects of the Dark Triad traits on the self-reported relationship satisfaction of 100 young heterosexual couples found:
- Women higher or lower in psychopathy reported more satisfaction with partners who had similar levels of psychopathy to themselves.
- Those high in Machiavellianism (particularly women) reported more dissatisfaction in their relationships when their partner was also similarly high in Machiavellianism.
- Narcissists reported higher levels of satisfaction when their partners were also high in narcissism.
The Dark Triad as an 'honest signal' of mate quality[edit | edit source]
Finally, another explanation (favored particularly by blackpillers solely focused on LMS theory, particularly lookism) is that women are attracted to Dark Triad men because it is a Zahavian Signal of high male mate quality, i.e., Dark Triad men are more likely to have traits that enable them to act in a callous, manipulative and narcissistic manner and still be accepted by prospective female partners. They are argued to receive 'permission' by society to act in this way, without negative consequences, due to their high objective mate value, particularly their good looks.
There also exists some evidence that narcissism, in particular, is related to "greater phenotypic quality" in both males and females, for instance, a more masculinized phenotype and lower facial and overall fluctuating asymmetry, that may potentially also account for the women's greater attraction to these men in general.
Narcissistic men and women are (not surprisingly) also more likely to engage in self-adornment related behaviors e.g., wearing expensive clothing, jewelry, engage in high levels of grooming, and (in women) dressing in a more revealing manner. The more effective self-presentation of narcissists would undoubtedly be expected to enhance their physical appearance and thus mate value, in general.
Case study of a psychopath's relationships with women[edit | edit source]
Since kindergarten, Frank was a problem. He bullied smaller pupils, disobeyed school rules, and was often truant. He quit school during the 11th grade, then traveled the continent using money he borrowed from friends (but never repaid). He also had many short-term jobs, fraudulently collected welfare, and dealt drugs. He had many heterosexual relationships, fathering at least one child by the time he was 16. He was first incarcerated at 15 for stealing a car, and by 18, he had a criminal record that included violent offenses, theft and possession of stolen goods, and drug trafficking.
When he was 19, Frank was arrested for the brutal rape of an acquaintance. The victim barely survived severe internal injuries, but Frank always maintained that the sex was mutually consenting. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. After many years in a maximum security institution, Frank was transferred to a less secure hospital. While there, he persuaded a nurse that he was innocent and misunderstood. Believing Frank was in love with her, she helped him escape by unlocking the door and hiding him in the trunk of her car. Frank stayed the weekend with her, then left while she was out buying groceries; she never heard from him again. After being apprehended, Frank was returned to the maximum security facility but, within a few years, he was again transferred to a less secure hospital. During his stay there, he sexually assaulted three fellow female patients and a staff member.
While on a pass, he viciously raped a young woman in the local community. Again, he was returned to maximum security. Since then he has written a two-volume autobiography featuring a portrait of himself on the cover. He reads all of our published research from which he tries to use out-of-context quotations to convince the Review Board to release him again. Recently, a nurse on his unit lost her job after Frank convinced her to smuggle testosterone tablets to him.
Commentary[edit | edit source]
Frank was most likely able to manipulate so many people during his life, due to a combination of a trustworthy face, as well as high physical and vocal attractiveness.
References[edit | edit source]
- Jonason P. K., Li N. P., Webster G. W., Schmitt D. P. (2009). "The Dark Triad: Facilitating short-term mating in men." European Journal of Personality. 23: 5–18. doi:10.1002/per.698.
- Jonason P. K., Valentine K. A., Li N. P., Harbeson C. L. (2011). "Mate-selection and the Dark Triad: Facilitating a short-term mating strategy and creating a volatile environment." Personality and Individual Differences. 51 (6): 759–63. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.06.025.
- Jonason P. K., Li N. P., Buss D. M. (2010). "The costs and benefits of the Dark Triad: Implications for mate poaching and mate retention tactics." Personality and Individual Differences. 48 (4): 373–78. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2009.11.003.
- Jonason P. K., Koenig B., Tost J. (2010). "Living a fast life: The Dark Triad and Life History Theory". Human Nature. 21 (4): 428–42. doi:10.1007/s12110-010-9102-4.
- Carter, Gregory Louis, Anne C. Campbell, Steven Muncer, "The Dark Triad personality: Attractiveness to women", Elsevier/ScienceDirect, 12 June 2013
- Grewel, Daisy, "Psychology Uncovers Sex Appeal of Dark Personalities", Scientific American, 27 November 2012
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- https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/SD3/ Online version of the 'SD3' designed to measure the levels of the 'Dark Triad' traits in an individual produced by Delroy L. Paulhus and Daniel Jones, provided for educational purposes.
- https://www.idrlabs.com/dark-triad/test.php Alternate online Dark Triad test.
- https://www.idrlabs.com/dark-quad/test.php "Dark quad" test that includes sadism as a dark trait.
- https://osf.io/evs7z/ Online physiognomy database consisting of a series of facial morphs of individuals of both sexes, that are either high or low in regards to the various Dark Triad traits, based on both self-reported and peer-reported levels of the individual's Dark Triad traits.