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How “Dirty” is the Dark Triad? Dark Character Profiles, Swearing, and Sociosexuality

Journal article
Authors Danilo Garcia
Published in PeerJ
Volume 8
Pages 1-18
ISSN 2376-5992
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Psychology
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Pages 1-18
Language en
Keywords Character, Dark Cube, Dark Triad, Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy, Sociosexuality, Swearing, Unification vs. Uniqueness Debate
Subject categories Psychology


Malevolent character traits (i.e., the Dark Triad: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy) are associated to emotional frigidity, antagonism, immoral strategic thinking, betrayal, exploitation, and sexual promiscuity. Despite the fact that character is a complex adaptive system, almost every study has solely investigated the linear association between malevolent character and attitudes towards both swearing and sociosexual orientation (i.e., behavior, attitude, and desire regarding promiscuous sexual behavior). In contrast, the aim in this set of studies was to evaluate these associations in relation to specific profiles of malevolent character (i.e., the Dark Cube). In two studies participants responded to the Dark Triad Dirty Dozen, the Taboo Words’ Offensiveness and Usage Inventories (i.e., attitudes towards 30 swear words’ level of offensiveness and usage) (Study 1: N1 = 1,000) and the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory Revised (Study 2: N2 = 309). Participants were clustered according to all eight possible combinations based on their dark trait scores (M/m = high/low Machiavellianism; N/n = high/low narcissism; P/p = high/low psychopathy). The results of this nonlinear approach suggested that the frequent usage, not level of offensiveness, of swear words was associated to Machiavellianism and narcissism. In other words, individuals with high levels in these traits might swear and are verbally offensive often, because they do not see swearing as offensive (cf. with the attitude- behavior-cognition-hypothesis of taboo words; Rosenberg, Sikström & Garcia, 2017). Moreover, promiscuous sociosexual attitude and desire were related to each dark trait only when the other two were low. Additionally, promiscuous sociosexual behavior was not associated to these malevolent character traits. That is, individuals high in the dark traits are willing to and have the desire to engage in sexual relations without closeness, commitment, and other indicators of emotional bonding. However, they do not report high levels of previous sexual experience, relationships, and infidelity. Hence, they approve and desire for it, but they are not actually doing it. The use of person- centered and non-linear methods, such as the Dark Character Cube, seem helpful in the advancement of a coherent theory of a biopsychosocial model of dark character.

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