The Dark Triad – Twenty Years On.

Twenty years ago, two Canadian psychologists, Del Paulhus and Kevin Williams, postulated the existence of a “Dark Triad” of “overlapping but distinct” toxic traits — subclinical psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism.  Since then the Dark Triad has prompted extensive research and this excellent  blog by Emma Young digests the work of the past 20 years.

What exactly is the Dark Triad?

Paulhus and Williams focused on people who fell within the normal range of functioning. So, clinical psychopaths in jail for murder are excluded but included are fellow office workers and life partners.   The three Dark Triad traits cover a range of anti-social beliefs and behaviours:

  • Psychopathy is associated with low levels of empathy, and being high in impulsivity and thrill-seeking.
  • Machiavellianism was named, in 1970, after the philosophy of Niccolo Machiavelli; people who score highly on this scale are cynical and unprincipled manipulators of others.
  • Narcissists are entitled types who believe that they are superior beings, and should be treated that way.

Paulhus and Williams argued that each of the Dark Triad traits has its own psychological profile, but they share a common core of “callous-manipulation” — a disregard for the feelings and wellbeing of others, for personal gain.  One of my core beliefs is that any people profiling system you use must include the Dark Triad.  I use the 7MTF and the temperament factor that encompasses the Dark Triad is the GoGetter, formerly known as the Hustler.

Why this is important is that in many organisations, both private and public, you will often meet senior people who have a dominant GoGetter.  Learning how to recognise them, understanding their dominant motivations and developing the social skills to deal with them is often a critical key to career success.

While he was President, Donald Trump was my favourite example of a GoGetter in action.  This five-minute video clip by Jimmy Kimmel listing off the narcissistic behaviour of Donald Trump is both hilarious and a great checklist.

If you want to improve your recognition and social skills for GoGetters and the other six 7MTF components consider doing my practical emotional intelligence courses.  Do the basic 7MTF course for an investment of  A$25 and 5 hours of your time and you will dramatically increase your EQ competency in days.

This blog was first published on LinkedIn


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