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Description: You may recall, if you are regular reader of this blog, that I have written before about the Dark Triad of personality traits (Psychopathy, Machiavellianism and Narcissism, a lovely combination). Recent research has added Sadism to the list and created the Dark Tetrad (social interaction gets better and better!). Some recent research has done something I find very interesting. Rather than look at the general behaviors of people scoring high on the personality scales that make up the Dark Triad or Dark Tetrad these researchers looked at what sorts of first impressions people with varying Dark profiles make on others in real face-to-face first tie interactions. Given the potentially seriously negative consequences of engaging in long-term interactions with people scoring high on the dimensions of the Dark Tetrad it could be important to know if we have any ability to notice or at least get a “feel” for people who score high on Dark Triad traits. In addition, it could be very helpful if we could figure out how to get better at doing this with thought or practice. Do you think you have Dark Tetrad radar for first impressions of people who score high on those dimensions? If you do can you tell what it is based on or is it just a more intuitive feeling of creepiness? Do you think people who score high on the Dark Tetrad traits are aware of the sorts of first impressions they leave when interacting with others? Once you have thought about these questions read through the article linked below to find out more about the Dark Tetrad traits and about their impact upon first impressions. Oh and a lot of research is linking the Dark Tetrad to the behaviors of internet “Trolls” (look it up if you do not know what they are or read one or two of the articles linked in the Further Reading section below).

Source: Why Psychopaths Make Such Bad First Impressions, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Fulfillment at Any Age, Psychology Today.

Date: April 21, 2018

Photo Credit: Psychology Today

Article Links:

Have you had experiences where you pick up a “bad vibe” or a sense of “creepiness” from someone with whom you are briefly interacting for the first time? If you were lucky or smart you acted on those feelings as the research discussed in the link above suggests that we CAN pick up on Dark Tetrad traits in others in short first social interactions. This is a good example of Psychological research that is helping us to think about, better understand, and perhaps use more effectively and consciously social abilities we may not even be aware that we possess. It is also interesting to see more clearly how people scoring high on the Dark Tetrad traits (defined nicely in the linked article) see and reflect upon how they are perceived by others in initial social interactions. You can see how their Dark Tetrad traits impact BOTH their beliefs about how they are perceived by others in initial social interactions AND the developmental implications (for them) of the impressions they make on others. Basically if you tend to creep people out when you meet them this will most certainly impact your thoughts and beliefs about other people.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the traits that make up the Dark Tetrad?
  2. If you have had the experience of feeling as though someone you are interacting with for the first time is “creepy” what sorts of things were they doing that might have contributed to your feelings during the interaction?
  3. How might you train yourself or train others to develop and pay proper attention to forms of creepiness first impression social radar?

References (Read Further):


Rogers, K. H., Le, M. T., Buckels, E. E., Kim, M., & Biesanz, J. C. (2018). Dispositional malevolence and impression formation: Dark tetrad associations with accuracy and positivity in first impressions. Journal of Personality, doi:10.1111/jopy.12374

Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Trolls just want to have fun. Personality and individual Differences, 67, 97-102.

Book, A., Visser, B. A., Blais, J., Hosker-Field, A., Methot-Jones, T., Gauthier, N. Y., … & D’Agata, M. T. (2016). Unpacking more “evil”: What is at the core of the dark tetrad?. Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 269-272.

Chabrol, H., Melioli, T., Van Leeuwen, N., Rodgers, R., & Goutaudier, N. (2015). The Dark Tetrad: Identifying personality profiles in high-school students. Personality and Individual Differences, 83, 97-101.

Greitemeyer, T. (2015). Everyday sadism predicts violent video game preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 75, 19-23.

Southard, A. C., Noser, A. E., Pollock, N. C., Mercer, S. H., & Zeigler-Hill, V. (2015). The interpersonal nature of dark personality features. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 34(7), 555-586.