Signs of the Dark Triad of Personality

The signals of the dark triad tell us that we are facing a highly dangerous profile. They are people who do not hesitate to manipulate, lie and skip any ethical or moral principle to achieve any goal.

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Some people say that the signs of the dark triad of personality are almost like the triangle of Bermuda: a trap, a dimension as unique as dangerous. The reason for this lies in a very simple fact: this type of profile is only guided by instrumental ends. That is, when you want something, do not hesitate to violate the rights of others to achieve their own objectives.

When Donald Trump came to power in January 2017, many mental health professionals warned that, perhaps, the new president of the United States could score significantly in a test of the dark triad. It is clear that we will never know this because there is no data or any type of test has been applied to assert such a conclusion.

However, there are some who see traits that point in this direction. Narcissism, the lack of respect for the thoughts and ideas of others, the use or manipulation of the means to achieve a personal benefit, could be more than just coincidences …

There is even an interesting study published in a journal of Personality Psychology by Dr. Anil Balci in the same year of his arrival in power, in which this idea is analyzed and data are offered that would support this possibility.

Be that as it may, there is an obvious fact. Sometimes we look at prominent figures. However, this clinical entity that essentially summarizes the most malevolent features of the human being may be present in certain people around us. Moreover, in the field of psychology it is known that this type of profile is common in the organizational field.

Thus, people with a leadership position are those who, on average, most often evidence the features of the dark triad. Let’s see it below.

Research tells us that people who evidence the dark triad of personality, lack empathy, interpersonal hostility and interpersonal offensive character.

Signs of the dark triad of personality

The dark triad is a term that emerged in the 90s. However, it was the studies and the description of psychologists Paulhus and Williams of the University of British Columbia, who coined this dimension in 2002. However, it should be noted an important aspect

When we talk about the dark triad we are not referring to a personality disorder; they are a set of subclinical traits that define a type of adverse behavior that generates great discomfort in the environment.

A person who scores high in the dark triad test will generate a psychosocial impact in every scenario in which he moves. Thus, family relationships, affective relationships and those related to work are affected by those antisocial tactics used by these men and women. Let’s analyze the signals of the dark triad.


Narcissism is one of the most obvious characteristics of the dark triad. The main core of this trait is selfishness and that constant need for visibility, power and admiration.

In addition, they tend to show ability to captivate people. They demonstrate a great power of seduction, they are kind, they shine in the parties, in the meetings and always manage to capture the attention by their extroverted character. However, that charm has a trap; it is an instrumental end to ascend in their ranks, to have alliances, to achieve their goals.

On the other hand, it is important to remember what your Achilles heel is: low self-esteem.


Machiavellianism differs in one aspect of narcissism: they do not make use of appearances, they do not captivate or seduce. Hence, they tend to impress by its instrumental coldness and, above all, by its manipulative effectiveness. In this sense, it is common that one of the signs of the dark triad is the lack of empathy and that insatiable quest to achieve what they want.

The person with features of the dark triad can be friendly and engaging at the beginning, thus fulfilling the perfect profile of a narcissist. However, if those kindest gifts do not work, an authentic Machiavelli will emerge, where the emotional coldness becomes apparent to reach his goal.


The psychopathic personality is that third tier that shapes the signals of the dark triad. Now, remember that this dimension does not refer to a psychological disorder. We speak only of a personality type, with which, psychopathic traits are usually evidenced in the following way:

  • Emotional insensitivity
  • Antisocial behavior (do not hesitate to skip the legal, ethical and even moral codes).
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Predisposition to boredom, need reinforcements and new stimuli constantly.
  • Lack of remorse and ethical-moral sense.
  • Lack of commitment in social and affective relationships; many even show even sexual promiscuity.

How is the dark triad evaluated?

We know that the signals of the dark triad of the personality form a wide range. Does this mean that a person must score high in both narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy? In effect, the score must be positive in all areas, but there are nuances. The Jonason and Webster scale are usually used to make an adequate evaluation.

In it, it can be seen that, on average, there is always one area more significant than others. An example: in a study carried out by Webster and Jonason (2013) in various universities in the United States, it could be seen that there are many who give a higher score in the narcissistic area.

Now, what this scale also reveals is that the most dangerous profile within the dark triad of the personality is that which shows the highest score in the area of ​​psychopathy. In this case, it is when more harmful and adverse behaviors appear.

As we can see, this is a topic as interesting as it is disturbing, especially if we consider what psychoanalyst Michael Maccoby tells us: the dark triad of personality is increasingly common in the highest positions in the business world.