"D" / "D Factor": The Dark Factor In Human Personality

EnolaGaia

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This new Live Science article provides an introduction to the "D factor" proposed by German and Danish psychologists in 2018 as a meta-level metric for evaluating aversie behaviors such as psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism.
Scientists Have Identified The Driving Force Behind Your Darkest Impulses

Psychologists call it the dark triad: an intersection of three of the most malevolent tendencies of human nature – psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism.

But the truth goes deeper, and darker. There's also egoism, sadism, spitefulness, and more. And behind this rogues gallery of all our worst inclinations on the surface, a central, common core of human darkness lies, according to new research.

In a 2018 study, psychologists from Germany and Denmark mapped this driving force behind all our darkest impulses and gave it a name. Meet D, the newly identified Dark Factor of Personality.

The theoretical framework of the D factor has its underpinnings in what's known as the g factor: a construct proposed by English psychologist Charles Spearman over a century ago when he observed that individuals who performed well on one kind of cognitive test were more likely to score well on other kinds of intelligence tests, too.

In other words, a 'general intelligence factor' could be measured. But it turns out that's not all scientists are able to detect.

"In the same way, the dark aspects of human personality also have a common denominator, which means that – similar to intelligence – one can say that they are all an expression of the same dispositional tendency," explained psychologist Ingo Zettler from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark back in September 2018.

In a series of four separate studies involving over 2,500 participants, Zettler and fellow researchers surveyed participants with questions designed to measure their levels of nine distinct dark personality traits: egoism, Machiavellianism, moral disengagement, narcissism, psychological entitlement, psychopathy, sadism, self-interest, and spitefulness. ...

With all the responses in hand, researchers ran a statistical analysis, with the results suggesting that while these dark traits are all distinct, they all overlap to some extent, owing to the central core darkness factor, D, which reveals itself in different ways in different people.

"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," Zettler said.

"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." ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/scient...he-driving-force-behind-your-darkest-impulses
 

EnolaGaia

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Here are the bibliographic details and abstract from the original 2018 research paper ...


Moshagen, M., Hilbig, B. E., & Zettler, I. (2018).
The dark core of personality.
Psychological Review, 125(5), 656–688.
https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000111

Many negatively connoted personality traits (often termed “dark traits”) have been introduced to account for ethically, morally, and socially questionable behavior. Herein, we provide a unifying, comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding dark personality in terms of a general dispositional tendency of which dark traits arise as specific manifestations. That is, we theoretically specify the common core of dark traits, which we call the Dark Factor of Personality (D). The fluid concept of D captures individual differences in the tendency to maximize one’s individual utility—disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others—accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications. To critically test D, we unify and extend prior work methodologically and empirically by considering a large number of dark traits simultaneously, using statistical approaches tailored to capture both the common core and the unique content of dark traits, and testing the predictive validity of both D and the unique content of dark traits with respect to diverse criteria including fully consequential and incentive-compatible behavior. In a series of four studies (N > 2,500), we provide evidence in support of the theoretical conceptualization of D, show that dark traits can be understood as specific manifestations of D, demonstrate that D predicts a multitude of criteria in the realm of ethically, morally, and socially questionable behavior, and illustrate that D does not depend on any particular indicator variable included.

SOURCE: https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/rev0000111
 

EnolaGaia

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This 2018 EurekAlert article provided more details on the D factor research and the range of behaviors claimed to be influenced or generated in relation to the D factor.
Psychologists define the 'dark core of personality'

All dark personality traits can be traced back to the general tendency of placing one's own goals and interests over those of others even to the extent of taking pleasure in hurting other's ...

Egoism, Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, spitefulness, and others are among the traits that stand for the malevolent dark sides of human personality. As results from a recently published German-Danish research project show, these traits share a common 'dark core'. So, if you have one of these tendencies, you are also likely to have one or more of the others. ...

Although at first glance there appear to be noteworthy differences between these traits - and it may seem more 'acceptable' to be an egoist than a psychopath - new research shows that all dark aspects of human personality are very closely linked and are based on the same tendency. That is, most dark traits can be understood as flavoured manifestations of a single common underlying disposition: The dark core of personality. ...

As the new research reveals, the common denominator of all dark traits, the D-factor, can be defined as the general tendency to maximize one's individual utility--disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others--, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications.

In other words, all dark traits can be traced back to the general tendency of placing one's own goals and interests over those of others even to the extent of taking pleasure in hurting other's - along with a host of beliefs that serve as justifications and thus prevent feelings of guilt, shame, or the like. ...

Ingo Zettler, ... Morten Moshagen ... and Benjamin E. Hilbig ... have demonstrated how this common denominator is present in nine of the most commonly studied dark personality traits:
  • Egoism: an excessive preoccupation with one's own advantage at the expense of others and the community
  • Machiavellianism: a manipulative, callous attitude and a belief that the ends justify the means
  • Moral disengagement: cognitive processing style that allow behaving unethically without feeling distress
  • Narcissism: excessive self-absorption, a sense of superiority, and an extreme need for attention from others
  • Psychological entitlement: a recurring belief that one is better than others and deserves better treatment
  • Psychopathy: lack of empathy and self-control, combined with impulsive behaviour
  • Sadism: a desire to inflict mental or physical harm on others for one's own pleasure or to benefit oneself
  • Self-interest: a desire to further and highlight one's own social and financial status
  • Spitefulness: destructiveness and willingness to cause harm to others, even if one harms oneself in the process ...
FULL STORY: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/839406
 

EnolaGaia

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Medium-length questionnaire:
2.74
68%
:dunno:

My understanding of the instructions (the initial selection of which length questionnaire is used) is that a full set of results will be returned only if you take the largest (70-item) option.

I took the 70-item version. At the end I received a page with bar graphs, a distribution plot of scores for all respondents to date, and a "flower chart" plot of my scores on the various D Factor dimensions.

Here is the general distribution of scores for the set of respondents to date.

D_Score-Plot-Generic.jpg

 

EnolaGaia

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Here are some text excerpts from my results webpage explaining the scoring.

The number is your D-Score.
The percentage is your rank in comparison with all respondents (higher = "darker").

Please find your score(s) on the D-factor and the specific dark traits (if you completed the longest version) below. For all scores, the scale ranges from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high). Below the score, your relative position (rank) compared to the other 552705 participants of this study is shown. For example, a rank of 80% means that your score is equal to or higher than the score of 80% of the participants.

In interpreting the results, please note that the participants of this study are not representative for the general population, so that the ranks are certainly inaccurate. Also note that the results can only be reliable to the extent that you responded seriously and honestly. ...

Your D-Score

The Dark Factor of Personality (D) specifies the basic principle underlying all dark traits. D is the tendency to maximize one's individual utility — disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others —, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications. Put simply, individuals high in D will ruthlessly pursue their own interests, even when it negatively affects others (or even for the sake of it), while having beliefs that justify these behaviors.
 

EnolaGaia

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Going back to Max's results ...

The 68% figure means you scored at the 68th percentile on the composite D / Darkness spectrum. Look at the distribution bar graph and the location of the bar representing 2.7X scores.

The instructions at the D Factor website indicate a score obtained on the small or medium length batteries is not as precise or reliable as a score obtained from the large / full battery.
 

EnolaGaia

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I scored very low on the Darkness factor.
I am practically a saint.

I scored lower on the D Factor than I suspected I would: D-Score = 2.24 and Rank = 42%.

I'm not sure whether to trust these initial results. Because I have long personal / professional histories taking, administering, and evaluating such questionnaires I tend to over-think, second-guess and perhaps subconsciously game them. I was basking in an unexpected warm and fuzzy Xmas afterglow when I took the test, and I suspect that colored my attitude and answers. I may have to take it multiple times (as, e.g., I'd done with the autism test) to get a sense of where I actually score.

Then again, all this is consistent with the fact that the darkness dimension upon which I ranked highest (a bit more than 60th percentile) was Machiavellianism. :twisted:
 

skinny

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Here are the bibliographic details and abstract from the original 2018 research paper ...


Moshagen, M., Hilbig, B. E., & Zettler, I. (2018).
The dark core of personality.
Psychological Review, 125(5), 656–688.
https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000111

Many negatively connoted personality traits (often termed “dark traits”) have been introduced to account for ethically, morally, and socially questionable behavior. Herein, we provide a unifying, comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding dark personality in terms of a general dispositional tendency of which dark traits arise as specific manifestations. That is, we theoretically specify the common core of dark traits, which we call the Dark Factor of Personality (D). The fluid concept of D captures individual differences in the tendency to maximize one’s individual utility—disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others—accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications. To critically test D, we unify and extend prior work methodologically and empirically by considering a large number of dark traits simultaneously, using statistical approaches tailored to capture both the common core and the unique content of dark traits, and testing the predictive validity of both D and the unique content of dark traits with respect to diverse criteria including fully consequential and incentive-compatible behavior. In a series of four studies (N > 2,500), we provide evidence in support of the theoretical conceptualization of D, show that dark traits can be understood as specific manifestations of D, demonstrate that D predicts a multitude of criteria in the realm of ethically, morally, and socially questionable behavior, and illustrate that D does not depend on any particular indicator variable included.

SOURCE: https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/rev0000111


...

Morten Moshagen​

Professor of Psychology
Research Methods
Institute of Psychology and Education
Ulm University
Albert-Einstein-Allee 47
89081 Ulm, Germany
Tel +49 731 50 31850
Homepage
...

Benjamin E. Hilbig​

Professor of Psychology
Cognitive Psychology Lab
Department of Psychology
University of Koblenz-Landau
Fortstraße 7
76829 Landau, Germany
Tel +49 6341 280 34220
Homepage
...

Ingo Zettler​

Professor of Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Psychology
University of Copenhagen
Øster Farimagsgade 2a
1353 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel +45 35 32 48 50
Homepage
 

Lord Lucan

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D-Score = 2.50 and Rank = 59%. High on the psychological entitlement scale. Probably right there, though not a narcissist, greedy or a sadist which surprised me because I can & do hold a grudge against those who have wronged me.
 

PeteS

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I scored lower on the D Factor than I suspected I would: D-Score = 2.24 and Rank = 42%.

I'm not sure whether to trust these initial results. Because I have long personal / professional histories taking, administering, and evaluating such questionnaires I tend to over-think, second-guess and perhaps subconsciously game them. I was basking in an unexpected warm and fuzzy Xmas afterglow when I took the test, and I suspect that colored my attitude and answers. I may have to take it multiple times (as, e.g., I'd done with the autism test) to get a sense of where I actually score.

Then again, all this is consistent with the fact that the darkness dimension upon which I ranked highest (a bit more than 60th percentile) was Machiavellianism. :twisted:
Therein lies the problem with these questionnaires, surveys and the like which I'm sure you will have come across in your professional capacity. There was a very interesting piece on Radio 4 earlier in the year about someone doing years long research worldwide for governments in liberal democracies , with some interesting results on the issue of surveys etc.
Part of the research involved people in different countries who had answered an initial questionnaire in very similar terms and were subsequently interviewed. It was apparent that questions put in a slightly different way, but anticipating the same answer, produced entirely different answers. In the case of personal interviews the results varied considerably according to who was doing the interviewing, as did subsequent interviews asking the same question by a different interviewer.
Whether people were actually answering the questions truthfully was also raised, which must affect these internet surveys, but EG are these designed to in effect establish whether the answers are truthful and consistent? I have wondered about this when being sent these things from various authorities.
 

Xanatic*

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In also depends on the situation. This sounds like the kind of thing people give you at job interviews, which means you give the answer which will increase your chances of getting the job. "Yes, I am a complete psychopath. Now can I get that job in sales?"
 

Mythopoeika

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In also depends on the situation. This sounds like the kind of thing people give you at job interviews, which means you give the answer which will increase your chances of getting the job. "Yes, I am a complete psychopath. Now can I get that job in sales?"
In my first software job, new joiners were all given tests of this nature. I think they were trying to establish who would make good management material - i.e., if you're a psychopath, they'll put you on the fast-track to management. If you're a softy like me, you're one of the drones. Cannon fodder.
 

EnolaGaia

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... Whether people were actually answering the questions truthfully was also raised, which must affect these internet surveys, but EG are these designed to in effect establish whether the answers are truthful and consistent? I have wondered about this when being sent these things from various authorities.

First, a disclaimer ... I deliberately worked through the D-Factor questionnaire in one continuous pass without stopping, in an attempt to engage it in as "natural" and "unbiased" a way as possible. I didn't spend any time examining the questions on each page, archiving the pages for later examination, or reviewing each page before moving on to the next. As such, I came away at the end with what I can only call general impressions.

A robust questionnaire would include multiple questions of various types intended to cross-check the respondent's answers. For example, an issue might be put to the respondent in opposite ways, so that a firm opinion should result in (e.g.) a positive answer on one and a similarly strong negative answer on the other. Other multiple questions might be simply redundant, to cross-check that the respondent answered a single given issue the same way more than once. And so on ...

My general impression was that this questionnaire didn't exhibit much cross-checking via (e.g.) these contrast or redundancy tactics.

Another thing that bugged me, and occasionally bogged me down, was that some questions were framed in very stark black / white or "all or nothing" absolute terms. I had noticed that I'd sometimes "pulled my punches" by backing off a strong agreement or disagreement with a statement that was "all or nothing" with no in-between.

The third thing that bothered me was not knowing how clearly and precisely the questions had been phrased by (AFAIK) three non-native English speakers. It made me wonder whether the blunt absolutism in some of the key questions represented intentional precision versus accidental loss of nuance in translation.
 

Frideswide

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I think it won't surprise people that I have a high score.

Usual caveats about These Sorts of Measuring Tools applied.
 

pandacracker

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For me:

2.21

42%

highest scores were on psychological entitlement and spitefulness
 

escargot

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For me:

2.21

42%

highest scores were on psychological entitlement and spitefulness
Same as mine. Are we being Barnumed? :wink2:

Did you agree to take a punch if my ex your enemy took two? Bargainous, that's all I can say. :rollingw:
 
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