More or less than the sum of its parts? Mapping the Dark Triad of personality onto a single Dark Core

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

*Corresponding author for this work

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

60 Citations (Scopus)


The Dark Triad of personality has received considerable attention since its introduction to the literature. However, this personality configuration has been assumed to be merely based on observed positive intercorrelations between narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, whereas the underlying factorial structure has not yet been thoroughly investigated. This study set out to test the factorial structure of the Dark Triad, and further examined one proposed conceptual extension, namely the Dark Tetrad, with trait sadism included. A large, community-based sample (N = 2463, 56% women, mean age = 41.4 yr.) completed self-report measures of the adverse personality traits narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism. Structural equation modelling indicated a better fit for a single latent Dark Core, as compared with assuming the Dark Triad traits as independent constructs. Adding sadism did not improve the explanatory value of the construct. These findings suggest that aversive personalities may best be represented by a single Dark Core of personality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-144
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Dark Tetrad
  • Dark Triad
  • Machiavellianism
  • Narcissism
  • Psychopathy
  • Sadism
  • Structural equation modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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