Proposal to Research the Dark Triads

The Dark Triad and its Contrast Between Personality Members

The proposed research subject is intended to analyze the contrasts between the three personality members of the Dark Triads. Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy are among its members. A discussion of the three is socially important because many great persons in history could fit into any of the categories. Furthermore, the dissemination of this knowledge benefits the general public by assisting them in profiling these triads in their social interactions.

The Influence of Different Dark Triad Components on Perceived Attractiveness

The study issue driving this investigation is if different Dark Triad components influence an individual’s perceived attractiveness in a good or negative way. The research proposes that people with high levels of perceived attractiveness will have high levels of narcissism and low levels of both Machiavellianism and psychopathy.


In this review, Machiavellianism will refer to the personality defined by the traits of cynicism, self-absorption and manipulative behavior. Narcissism will refer to the personality defines by self-attraction, grandiosity, inflated self-perception, entitlement and a need to be admired (Paulhaus & Williams, 2002). Psychopathy refers to the personality that is defined by traits such as emotional vacuity, impulsivity and antisocial tendencies.

Perceived Self-Attractiveness and the Dark Triad Members

Although a lot has been written describing how perceived self-attractiveness is tied to narcissism, there is limited conclusive research aiming at how these levels of perceived self-attractiveness are related to the other two members of the Dark Triad. For example, a study seeking to expose the prevalence of the three personalities on social media linked perceived self-importance to all the three members of the triad (Fox & Rooney, 2015). Through an analysis of how sample owners of Twitter and Facebook accounts presented themselves in terms of status updates, profile avatars and in their interaction styles, the study concluded that all three personality presented self-perceptions that were inflated. While narcissists generally presented high levels self-importance in the bid to prove how admirable they were, the other two members of the Dark Triad simply showed self-importance without the care that others believed in it since they could be aggressive and brash in their interaction styles (Summer, Myers, & Rachel Moochever, 2012). While this conclusion may be misconstrued to mean that only narcissists perceived themselves attractive, the study did not explicitly tie self-attractiveness to the other two to warrant that conclusion.

Perceived Self-Esteem and the Dark Triad

In another article tying self-esteem to each of the three Dark Triads, self-esteem was defined as the level of self-affection that one shows themselves in relation to how others perceive that self-love. It postulated that self-esteem was either implicit or explicit in nature. Implicit esteem was the kind that was not socially demonstrated while explicit esteem was publicly demonstrated by its beholder (Jonason & Webster, 2010). The study concluded that while narcissists were more likely to show explicit self-esteem, people with psychopathy and Machiavellianism showed implicit self-esteem. A correlation may be drawn on the fact that narcissists showed explicit self-esteem as a manipulative tact for other people to hold them in the same esteem. Moreover since their self-esteem is based on the perception of their attractiveness, it can be asserted that they had high levels of perceived attractiveness (Stenason, 2014). Again this study could not account for perceived self-attractiveness in the other two triads since their self-esteem did not hinge upon being found attractive.

Perceived Intelligence and Attractiveness in the Dark Triad

Another study that aimed measuring perceived attractiveness in the triads assessed levels of reported self-intelligence in the three categories and correlated them to the results of an IQ test. While the study did not explicitly discuss perceived attractiveness in the sense of physical desirableness, attractiveness has been found to encompass the entire individual’s composition including pointers such as intelligence, humor and a sense of style in clothing (Wai & Tiliopoulos, 2012). Therefore, the study was warranted in correlating perceived attractiveness to perceived intelligence. However, in a cerebral approach to perceived attractiveness, all three categories showed high levels self-reported intelligence. The study concluded that narcissists inflated their intelligence so as to feel better about themselves, people with Machiavellianism inflated their intelligence so as to manipulate others, and psychopaths inflated theirs to maintain the perception of their superiority (Rauthmann & Kollar, 2013). However, there is a need for more research encompassing all the subsets of attraction as opposed to a single subset as in this study.


In order to answer the research question, this study will take a positivist theoretical approach since the research makes the assumption that knowledge about the triad traits can be known and measured. The research prefers a quantitative approach to research methodology, so as to measure distinct personality traits. The specific method adopted will be a probability survey on 200 hundred university students. The students will be given self-administered questionnaires to take away for two days. The questionnaires will contain questions from several personality tests. These include the Narcissism Personality Inventory (NPI) so as to measure their narcissism scale, the Mach IV test to measure their scale on narcissism, and the Self Reporting Psychopathy Scale II to test their psychopathy (Jakobwitz & Egan, 2006). Moreover, the students will also be given the Over Claiming Questionnaire test to record their exaggerations on different questions. The study hopes to correlate exaggeration of self-reported attractiveness, applying the results of the Over Claiming Questionnaire to questions of vanity will show that people on the narcissism scale will exaggerate their attractiveness more than those on the psychopathy and Machiavellianism Scale.


Fox, J., & Rooney, M. (2015). The Dark Triad and trait self-objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation behaviors on social networking sites. Personality and Individual Differences, 161-165.

Jakobwitz, S., & Egan, V. (2006). The dark triad and normal personality traits. Personality and Individual differences, 331-339.

Jonason, P., & Webster, G. (2010). The dirty dozen: a concise measure of the dark triad. Psychological Assessment, 420.

Paulhaus, D., & Williams, K. (2002). The dark triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of Research in personality, 556-563.

Rauthmann, J., & Kollar, G. (2013). The perceived attractiveness and traits of nthe dark triad: narcissists are perceived as hot, Machiavellians and psychopaths not. Personality and Individual Differences , 582-586.

Stenason, L. (2014). Implicit and Explicit Self-Esteem in Relation to the Dark Triad. Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal, 2(1).

Summer, C., Myers, A., & Rachel Moochever, G. P. (2012). Predicting dark triad personality traits from twitter usage and linguistic analysis of tweets. Machine learning and applications(icmla), 2012 11th international conference (pp. 386-393). IEEE.

Wai, M., & Tiliopoulos, N. (2012). The affective and empathetic nature of the Dark Triad of Personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 794-799.

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