Research associates psychopathy with low social status, narcissism with high social status

Led by Anton Aluja, professor at the UdL and head of the Neurocognition, psychobiology of the personality and behavioral genetics group at IRBLleida

Social status influences the malevolent personality, known as 'Dark Triad traits': psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism. Research with 10,298 participants from 18 different cultures has confirmed the association of psychopathy with low social status and narcissism with high social status. The research, led by Anton Aluja, professor at the University of Lleida (UdL) and head of the Neurocognition, psychobiology of the personality and behavioral genetics research group at IRBLleida, has been published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

One of the novelties of this research is the study of the relationship between social status, personality and the traits of the Dark Triad to see if there is a pattern of results in different countries. "Culture can have an influence of between 6 and 16% on malevolent traits (psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism), a fact that is considered to be of little relevance, so these personality traits are identified in all the cultures analysed," said Anton Aluja, professor at the University of Lleida.

"This research corroborates that these malevolent personality traits, which have historically been identified in authoritarians and dictators, are found in all cultures and are part of the human personality, although in this case they have been related to social status - level of studies and profession -", explained the leader of the research, Anton Aluja.

In terms of gender differences, men score higher than women on the three malevolent traits (psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism). On personality, the research concludes that psychopathy is related to lack of responsibility and narcissism to extraversion and sensation seeking. Machiavellianism and psychopathy are positively related to aggressiveness.

The people participating in the study come from 18 different cultures (Catalonia, Spain, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland -French-speaking and German-speaking-, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland, the United States, Chile, China, Qatar, Israel, Tunisia, Senegal and Togo) and represent 13 different languages (Spanish, Catalan, German, Italian, Hungarian, French, Bosnian, Polish, English, Chinese, Mandarin, Arabic and Hebrew).

The research has been carried out in collaboration with the Autonomous University of Madrid, the University of Laussane (Switzerland), the University of Bielefeld (Germany), the University of Bar-Ilan (Israel), the Cheikh Anta Diop University (Senegal), the Qatar University, the University of Zurich (Switzerland), the Zhejiang University School of Medicine (China), the Hangzhou University of Science and Technology (China), Károli Gáspár University (Hungary), Maria Grzegorzewska University of Warsaw (Poland), University of Banja Luka (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Gonzaga University (USA), University of Trieste (Italy), Universidad Autónoma de Chile (Chile), University of Tunis (Tunisia), University of Lomé (Togo) and University of Liège (Belgium).

This research was made possible thanks to funding from a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (PID2019-103981RB-100).

Article: Aluja A, García LF, Rossier J, et al. Dark Triad Traits, Social Position, and Personality: A Cross-Cultural Study (2022). Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. doi:10.1177/00220221211072816

The Neurocognition, psychobiology of the personality and behavioral genetics group