If You Have A Dark Personality, You May Have What Experts Call The ‘D-Factor’

A recently published study may give new insight into the darker side of human psychology.

Egoism, spitefulness, and entitlement are the central traits in what researchers at the University of Copenhagen are referring to as the “dark core.”

And according to a new paper titled the “The Dark Core of Personality” those who display one of these traits could be more likely have others, such as  sadism, psychopathy, narcissism, or Machiavellianism.

Scientists are calling this interconnection the “D-factor.”

According to the study “the D-factor can be defined as the general tendency to maximize one’s  individual utility — disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking  disutility for others — , accompanied by beliefs that serve as  justifications.”

The study was conducted by Ingo Zettler, a psychologist at the University of Copenhagen, Morten Moshagen, a professor at Ulm University, and Benjamin Hilbig, a professor at the University of Koblenz-Landau.

The researchers asked 2,500 people how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements such as  “It is hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there,” “It is  sometimes worth a little suffering on my part to see others receive the  punishment they deserve,” and “I know that I am special because everyone  keeps telling me so.”

Zettler says the study shows a common denominator between the darker personality traits and the tendency to put one’s own self-interest ahead of others,  sometimes even at their expense

These tendencies are also often coupled with traits that justify or rationalize antisocial and immoral behaviors.  “Narcissism, for example, is a strong justification for malevolent  behavior,” Zettler told Newsweek. “Because such individuals feel entitled to deserve more and to  be simply better than others.”

In all, the researchers identified 9 dark personality traits.



  • Egoism: preoccupation with one’s own achievement at the expense of others
  • Machiavellianism: “a manipulative, callous attitude and a belief that the ends justify the means”
  • Moral disengagement: the ability to behave unethically without feeling bad about it
  • Narcissism: excessive self-absorption, superiority, and extreme need for attention
  • Psychological entitlement: the belief that one is superior to others
  • Psychopathy: lack of empathy and self-control; impulsivity
  • Sadism: desire to inflict mental or physical harm on others for one’s own pleasure or benefit
  • Self-interest: desire to boost/highlight one’s own social or financial status
  • Spitefulness: willingness to retaliate/cause harm to others—even if it hurts oneself

Zettler says awareness of the correlation between these traits could be significant for researchers and therapists.

“In cases of extreme violence, or rule-breaking, lying, and deception  in the corporate or public sectors…knowledge about a person’s D-factor  may be a useful tool, for example to assess the likelihood that the  person will reoffend or engage in more harmful behavior.”

The test, which is now available online seems to be invading timelines every where. 


The results have many a little bit worried.

And once scores were posted everyone started giving each other some heavy side-eye. 

Though perhaps the ones posting scores aren’t the ones you should be worried about. 

H/T – Insider, Newsweek, Science Daily