Research Output
The dark triad: examining judgement accuracy, the role of vulnerability, and linguistic style in interpersonal perception.
  The Dark Triad constructs – Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism – are typically associated with socially aversive behaviours, including insensitivity and exploitation. Despite this, individuals high in Dark Triad traits can be successful and popular outside of clinical and forensic contexts. Research suggests that individuals susceptible to exploitation possess traits signalling vulnerability, and Dark Triad individuals are adept at identifying these when choosing victims. Language is also known to reveal traces of Dark Triad characteristics. This project examined patterns of interpersonal perception among Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism, with the aim to highlight similarities and differences across the three traits. Three studies explored these traits and the ways they manifest in social contexts.
Study 1 investigated the extent to which perceptions of individuals high in Dark Triad traits accurately correspond to personality, emotional attributes, and vulnerability within their targets for manipulation. The cues they use for their judgements were considered. Participants who completed Dark Triad measures watched four video clips of dyadic interactions. Results indicated that Dark Triad individuals demonstrated a negative–other bias, whereby they generally perceived all targets as being vulnerable.
Study 2 examined the characteristics of individuals who seemingly condone and abet Dark Triad individuals. Results showed that predictors of vulnerability included low extraversion, low conscientiousness, high neuroticism, and high agreeableness. The vignette method was used to elicit perceptions towards Dark Triad behaviours. Response styles on Likert-type statements and open-ended questions between high and low vulnerability groups differed significantly; the less vulnerable were more derogatory whereas the more vulnerable were less harsh.
Study 3 qualitatively assessed language as a marker of Dark Triad traits using text analysis. Case studies of individuals high on the Dark Triad scales revealed that their linguistic patterns were consistent with their respective theoretical conceptions.
This mixed methods research established that the Dark Triad traits do not uniformly entail the same behavioural outcomes. It also highlighted the importance of the interactive context between the destructive and the susceptible, through which researchers can devise strategies to help organisations better manage such individuals.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 October 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    BF Psychology

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    150 Psychology

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Chung, K. L. The dark triad: examining judgement accuracy, the role of vulnerability, and linguistic style in interpersonal perception. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Dark Triad, Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, Narcissism,

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