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Giving the benefit of the doubt: the role of vulnerability in the perception of Dark Triad behaviours.

Chung, Kai Li; Charles, Kathy


Kai Li Chung

Kathy Charles


The 'Dark Triad' of socially aversive personality traits (Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy) is typically associated with grandiosity, callousness, and exploitation. Despite this, people with such traits can be very successful in life, especially in the occupational context. This study investigated the characteristics of individuals who enable and abet people high on Dark Triad traits (e.g. through tolerating unpleasant behaviours, not challenging unethical conduct, etc.). High Dark Triad individuals may be able to identify individuals who are susceptible to social manipulation and who are therefore less likely to challenge their behaviours. This study used a 20-item Vulnerability Scale to capture the characteristics of individuals who fall victim to people high on the Dark Triad traits. Cronbach's alpha for the Vulnerability Scale was .80. Pearson's correlation between total vulnerability scores and each of the Big Five personality traits revealed that predictors of vulnerability to social manipulation include low extraversion, low conscientiousness, high neuroticism, and high agreeableness. The vignette method was used to elicit perceptions of Dark Triad behaviours from those who are found to demonstrate signs of social vulnerability. Differences in response styles on Likert-type statements and open-ended questions were found between the high and low vulnerability groups.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 24, 2016
Online Publication Date Jun 8, 2016
Publication Date 2016-10
Deposit Date May 30, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 9, 2018
Journal Personality and Individual Differences
Print ISSN 0191-8869
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 101
Pages 208-213
Keywords Dark Triad; psychopathy; narcissism; Machiavellianism;vulnerability; victimisation; aversive personality traits;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date May 30, 2016


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