The Shadowy Figure
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We’ve told you before about the “dark triad” of personality traits — Machiavelianism, narcissism, and psychopathy — and even gave you the chance to test yourself for those wicked ways. But just like Sauron controlling Saruman, the Emperor controlling Darth Vader, or any given combination of antagonists from the entire Marvel movie universe, there’s always secretly been another villainous force lurking behind those more prominent personality traits. Even better, you can take a test to find out how pervasive yours is.

Dark Forces

In a new study published in Psychological Review, researchers Morten Moshagen, Benjamin Hilbig, and Ingo E. Zettler set out to describe how the darkest personality traits were related. To do so, they expanded their search beyond the dark triad and found a full set of nine dark traits that could be linked together.

In short, Machiavellianism is a manipulative attitude, narcissism is a self-absorbed sense of superiority, and psychopathy is a lack of empathy and self-control. Beyond that, egoism is an obsession with gaining an advantage at the expense of others, and self-interest is similarly a drive to draw attention to your high status. Sadism and spitefulness both stem from a drive to harm others — the first for your pleasure or gain, the second regardless of the harm you do to yourself. Psychological entitlement is the persistent belief that you deserve more than other people. Finally, moral disengagement is the general ability to detach from your conscience and behave unethically without feeling distressed. Who knew there were so many different ways to be bad?

The Shadowy Figure

Lurking behind this rough-and-tumble gang of personality traits looms a single, dark figure: the D Factor (the “D” is for “dark”). Over the course of four studies, 2,500 participants took personality tests designed to measure each of these nine traits. When the researchers ran a statistical analysis of the people who scored highly for those traits, they found so much overlap that it suggested a single core trait behind them all.

What inspired them to seek this factor was a similar discovery pinpointing general intelligence, or the g factor. Researchers came up with this factor more than a century ago on the observation that people who performed well on certain types of cognitive tests were likely to perform well on others. Both the g and the D factors, then, are psychological constructs that help us better understand how these specific features relate to more general ones.

Test Yourself

So here’s a question: If you could find out your own D factor, would you want to? Good/bad news — you can. Anyone can still participate in the study — if they’re willing to explore the dark sides of their personality. You can choose three different versions of the test depending on how much time you’ve got: a 30-question quiz if you’re in a rush, a 60-question quiz for a more precise answer, and a 90-question quiz with an even more exact result. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Original Article at Curiosity.com Written by Reuben Westmaas