Measures and Psychology of Evil

Getting a large amount of quality data on evil people is hard to do. Case studies about people regarded as evil may be insightful, but the sample size is low and one wonders about other data reliability problems such as the authorship of history by the victor and the problems of popular science. Survey methods generally fail because one can’t simply ask, “So hey, are you evil?”

I recently ran into a paper discussing the so-called Dark Triad of psychological traits. This turns out to be a whole literature rather than a lone paper. I’m just starting to investigate this literature, but it seems to be the case that psychologists have a fairly credibly profile of an evil personality. That is, persons with a personality who are predisposed to doing things like lying, cheating and stealing. To be clear, I’m not suggesting someone is evil simply for having such a personality, but it precurses, predicts, and causally correlates when sampled at scale.

Here are some papers of note:

  1. Signaling virtuous victimhood as indicators of Dark Triad personalities
    1. Virtuous victimhood signaling is a means to an end for those possessing a dark triad personality. This sort of signaling allows the signalers to obtain transfers of value without a social obligation to reciprocate.
    2. By the way, Google seems to be scrubbing this article. It comes right but in Bing and Duck Duck Go. See below for an image providing evidence.
  2. Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater: The Dark Triad, Attitudes Towards Doping, and Cheating Behaviour Among Athletes
  3. The Dark Triad and nascent political ambition
  4. Should the Dark Triad Become the Dark Tetrad?
    1. Argues sadism should be recognized as distinct from psychopathy and the other dark traits.
    2. Notes HEXACO is one model which can detect dark personality.
  5. Dark Traits vs. Vulnerable Dark Traits (Dark Triad vs. Vulnerable Dark Triad)
  6. What is the Dark Tetrad? | Has the Dark Triad been replaced?

On Google scrubbing the first paper:


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