Deepstash brings you key ideas from the most inspiring articles like this one:
Read more efficiently
Save what inspires you
What's your dark core score?
Over 100 years ago Charles Spearman made two monumental discoveries about human intelligence. First, a general factor of intelligence (g) exists: people who score high on one test of intelligence also tend to score high on other tests of intelligence. Second, Spearman found that the
Fast forward to 2018, and a
The Proposed D-Factor
We all know people who consistently display ethically, morally, and socially questionable behavior in everyday life. Personality psychologists refer to these characteristics among a subclinical population as "dark traits." An understanding of dark traits has become increasingly popular not only in psychology, but also in
Even though psychologists have studied various dark traits, it has become increasingly clear that
Morten Moshagen and his colleagues proposed that a D-factor exists, which they define as the basic tendency to maximize one's own utility at the expense of others, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications for one's malevolent behaviors. In their definition, utility refers to goal achievement. For those scoring high on the D-factor, utility maximization is sought despite running contrary to the interests of others or even for the sake of bringing about negative outcomes in others.
Utility in this definition does not refer to utility maximization that is irrelevant of the effect on others—such engaging in sports to improve one's health, engaging in consensual sex, or recreational activities. Also, it should be noted that those scoring high on the D-factor aren't always uncooperative, as they can be very strategic in choosing when to cooperate. Their key prediction is that those scoring high on the D-factor will not be motivated to increase the utility of others (helping others in need) without benefiting themselves, and will not derive utility for themselves from the utility of others (eg, being happy for the success of others).
The researchers acknowledge that the D-factor can be manifested in a large number of ethically, morally and socially questionable attitudes and behaviors. However, they propose that any single dark trait will boil down to at least one of the defining features of the D-factor. For instance, those scoring high on narcissism might be particularly justifying of the belief that they are superior, whereas those scoring high in sadism may place a stronger emphasis on deriving utility from actively provoking disutilities for others. Nevertheless, they argue that any single dark trait will be related to at least one (and typically several) of the defining aspects of the D-factor; ie, there is a substantial common core underlying individual differences on all measures of dark traits.
Again, the g-factor analogy is apt: while there are some differences between verbal intelligence, visuospatial intelligence, and perceptual intelligence (ie,
So what did they actually find?
The Actual D-Factor
Across four studies, the researchers found support for the existence of their proposed D-factor. To capture a reasonable D-factor, they administered nine different tests measuring a particular dark trait that has been well studied in the psychological literature. These are the nine traits that comprised their D-factor:
Here is a summary of their main findings:
What's Your Dark Core Score?
If you've made it this far, you're probably eager to see whether you score high on the D-factor. This nine-item test should be sufficient to estimate to a reasonable degree where you would score on the D-factor. The more you are in strong agreement with multiple items on this scale, the higher the likelihood you would score high on the D-factor. If you are in strong agreement with just one item on this scale, I wouldn't be so confident that you would score high on the D-factor. However, if you are in extremely strong agreement on many of these items, there's a high likelihood that you would indeed score high on the D-factor (ie, you're a humongous asshole, objectively measured):
The Dark Core Scale
1. It is hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there.
2. I like to use clever manipulation to get my way.
3. People who get mistreated have usually done something to bring it on themselves.
4. I know that I am special because everyone keeps telling me so.
5. I honestly feel I'm just more deserving than others.
6. I'll say anything to get what I want.
7. Hurting people would be exciting.
8. I try to make sure others know about my successes.
9. It is sometimes worth a little suffering on my part to see others receive the punishment they deserve.
Note: The Dark Core Scale was adapted from the larger test battery. I selected the items on an ad-hoc basis for entertainment purposes, but I do not recommend using the scale to make any sort of diagnosis. For more on the D-factor, go to
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., is a humanistic psychologist exploring the depths of human potential. He has taught courses on intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. In addition to writing the column
Credit: Andrew French
Save all ideas
Over 100 years ago, Charles Spearman made discoveries about human intelligence. One is that the general factor of intelligence (g-factor) conforms to the principle of the "indifference of the indicator," meaning that regardless of what test of intelligence you use, as long as the intelligence test is difficult and long enough, you can reliably measure a person's intelligence.
A new study suggests the same principle applies to human malignancy. The General Dark Factor of Personality (D-factor) conforms to the principle of "indifference of the indicator."
We all know people who consistently display ethically, morally and socially unreasonable behavior. Personality psychologists refer to these characteristics as "dark traits."
Researchers emphasize that these dark traits are related to each other, so they suggest that a D-factor exists. This is defined as the basic tendency to maximize one's own goal at the expense of others, and believing that one's malicious behaviors are justified.
The more you agree with multiple items on this scale, the higher the likelihood you would score high on the D-factor. If you are strong on just one item, you probably will not score high on the D-factor:
SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:
The dark triad of personality consists of narcissism (self-importance), Machiavellianism (strategic exploitation and deceit), and psychopathy (callousness and cynicism).
We are all...
The light triad of human nature consists of three distinct factors:
The light triad is not simply the opposite of the dark triad. There is a little bit of light and dark in each of us.
A study revealed that the average person is leaning more toward the light triad than the dark in their everyday patterns of thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Extreme malevolence is rare in the general population.
In a world that is thought to be black and white, where the good is desirable and the bad is looked down upon, each one of us has a dark side, which according to conventional wisdom, is to ...
Our personalities have two distinct triads: The Light Triad and The Dark Triad. The dark ones sometimes overlap with the light ones to form a complete personality.
The Dark Triad, which is associated with the Seven Deadly Sins (Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth, Gluttony, Pride and Envy) seems to be very fascinating, with many researchers drawn towards it just like viewers are drawn to serial-killer shows and murder mysteries.
There are certain personality traits in literature that fall under the Dark Triad:
Abraham Maslow, the famous psychologist, had worked on a theory that linked self-actualization to spirituality and self-transcendence.
His Hierarchy Of Needs Pyra...
Self-Actualization is an internal struggle that one must take by leaning towards stability and our higher goals while minimizing disruption from distracting thoughts and impulses (disruptive impulsivity).
One also has to look out for oneself to not fall in the dark abyss of negativity and doubt, apart from feeling directionless or meaningless.