“I'll teach you differences”: Taxometric analysis of the Dark Triad, trait sadism, and the Dark Core of personality

Ulrich S. Tran*, Bianca Bertl, Michael Kossmeier, Jakob Pietschnig, Stefan Stieger, Martin Voracek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

21 Citations (Scopus)


The Dark Triad of personality (Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy) is widely considered conceptually important for individual differences research into personality and interpersonal behavior. Recent research suggests to add trait sadism to its defining constructs (i.e., to form a Dark Tetrad), and that a single common dimension (the Dark Core) underlies these dark personality traits. Taxometric studies suggest the Dark Triad traits are dimensional (i.e., quantitative), but investigations on the facet level are lacking and sex differences in dark personality traits have not been considered. Utilizing widely-used scales, this study investigated the Dark Triad traits, sadism, as well as the Dark Core of personality, with taxometric methods on both the aggregate and facet level and separately among men and women (total N = 2463, 56% women, mean age: 41.4 years). Dark personality traits mostly were dimensional, on both the aggregate and the facet level, and for both sexes. The Dark Core appeared to be taxonic among men, but dimensional among women. Taxon members were characterized by uniformly elevated dark personality traits and younger age. Future studies might profitably investigate the incremental predictive validity of this identified taxon and focus on further sex differences in dark personality traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Dark Core
  • Dark Triad
  • Machiavellianism
  • Narcissism
  • Psychopathy
  • Sadism
  • Sex differences
  • Taxometric analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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