Who is the least selfish celebrity

The dark side of personality

The dark side of the human being has many facets. Psychologists from Ulm, Landau and Copenhagen have now shown that egoists, Machiavellians, narcissists, psychopaths and sadists have more in common than what separates them. The researchers succeeded in tracing many of these problematic personality traits back to a few basic principles: the "dark factor" (D-factor) of personality.

"The core component of this dark factor in personality is an exaggerated egoism that has negative effects on others or on society in general. This is accompanied by convictions that prevent feelings of guilt, remorse and moral scruples," explains Morten Moshagen. The head of the Department of Psychological Research Methods at the University of Ulm carried out the study together with Benjamin Hilbig from the University of Koblenz-Landau and Ingo Zettler from the University of Copenhagen.

When it comes to the D-factor, the scientists explicitly speak of an extreme form of individual benefit maximization that literally allows those affected to walk over corpses: that is, they willingly accept damage for others or even intentionally cause it. This tendency is accompanied by the tendency to justify one's own behavior to oneself and to others.

The bad properties

In their analyzes, the three scientists examined nine personality traits. These include egoism, hatred, Machiavellianism, moral disinhibition, narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, self-centeredness and exaggerated claims. The researchers found that practically all of these traits can be traced back to the D-factor as the dark core of the personality.

In practical terms, this means that, for example, people with a high tendency towards narcissism are very likely to show pronounced Machiavellian and psychopathic personality traits. "In addition, people with a strong D-factor are statistically likely to become criminal, violent, or otherwise violate social rules," the researchers said. "The D-factor is a good indicator for predicting selfish and dishonest behavior and is far more meaningful than the more specific characteristics such as narcissism," says the Copenhagen psychologist Zettler.

Ego games for test subjects

A total of more than 2,500 people were interviewed for the four-part study. The researchers confronted the study participants with an extensive catalog of questions in order to be able to grasp special personality traits in a structured manner. In addition, behavioral experiments were carried out such as the so-called dictator game, in which the participants can distribute money to themselves and unknown players.

The results of this game are a measure of selfish or altruistic behavior. In a further distribution experiment, the test subjects also had the opportunity to make additional profit by actively lying. The scientific purpose of this game is to capture problematic behaviors such as dishonesty.

Predict behavior

Interesting in the eyes of the researchers is the analogy to the "g-factor" - a concept of the famous British intelligence researcher and psychologist Charles Spearman. This "general factor of intelligence" explains that people who show good results in a certain form of intelligence test also do well in other types of intelligence tests. "Like the g-factor, the D-factor is a general concept that can take various forms," ‚Äč‚Äčexplains Benjamin Hilbig from the University of Koblenz-Landau.

Conversely, this means that a high dark factor can express itself in a wide variety of problematic behaviors and personalities. "To put it bluntly, one could say that when a boss gleefully cleanses his employees down, the probability is high that he will also take advantage of his business partners, evade taxes or cheat on his wife," says Ulm psychologist Morten Moshagen. (red, October 28, 2018)