Do you have the 'D-factor'? Study finds psychopaths, narcissists, sadists and others all share a 'dark core' of humanity

This is interesting work but it suffers from a sampling shortcut that is all too common these days.  It uses online respondents.  But people who answer online questionnaires do differ quite markedly from the general population. In particular, they tend to give the researcher what he expects. Such people seem to be similar in their thinking to psychology professors!  And in this case you can therefore reasonably expect that the intercorrelations between the various "dark" traits will be high. On re-presenting the same questions to a more representative sample of the general population, much lower correlations would be expected.

And that matters.  As it is, the authors have a reasonable claim to have shown a unitary trait of personality that is similar to IQ -- which is the unitary trait of problem-solving ability.  But the IQ concept becomes useful because the intercorrelations between the various aspects of it are quite high.  Are the correlations within the "D" factor also high?  In the research so far presented they are pretty good and a person's score on it would be broadly informative. But is a similar degree of homogeneity to be found in the general population?  It won't be.  But just how high or low remains to be seen.  I am not terribly optimistic

More information on the research so far is available here

From sadism to psychopathy and even spitefulness, the traits that show the more sinister sides of humanity all share a common ‘dark core.’ And, if you have one of these tendencies, you just might have some of the others, too.

While traits such as egoism might not seem as extreme as something such as psychopathy, a new study has found a link between all of these so-called dark personality traits and the general tendency to put one’s own interests first.

In many cases, these people also seem to take pleasure in causing others pain.

In the new study from the University of Copenhagen, researchers have defined the common denominator of all dark traits. Dubbed the D-factor, the experts say it underlies the darker side of human personality.

This includes psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism, the 'dark triad,’ and a slew of others such as egoism, sadism, and spitefulness.

The ‘D-factor,’ which links all of these tendencies, addresses that person’s propensity to disregard or provoke others’ hardship to meet their own goals or interests. This is typically coupled with beliefs that serve as justification, the researchers note.

The new work follows previous research led roughly 100 years ago by Charles Spearman, which first showed that high levels of one type of intelligence often ties into these traits as well.

‘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,’ says Ingo Zettler, Professor of Psychology at the University of Copenhagen.


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