Sexist Beliefs Are Linked to Dark Triad Personality Traits

it's a weathered graphic that reads "space invaders against sexism" with a retro arcade font. A pixellated alien from the Space Invaders arcade game is also on the sign
Image by PJ Rey / CC BY

We covered the dark triad of personality traits in an earlier installment of this series. Feel free to reread that article for a review. But here’s a recap. Basically, personality researchers wanted to find out if there were traits that could act as early warning signs for antisocial behavior.

After much toil (and warring back and forth with one another), researchers came up with three personality traits that they call the dark triad. Individuals who are high in these traits are statistically more likely to commit crimes, be involved in interpersonal conflict, and cause disruption in the workplace:

  1. Machivallianism – behaving towards others in a cold and manipulative fashion, primarily self-interested, will not hesitate to deceive other people for their own benefit
  2. Narcissism – prone to grandiosity, entitlement, dominance, and superiority
  3. Psychopathy – distinguished by highly impulsive behaviors and a tendency towards thrill seeking, low empathy for others, considered most malevolent quality of the three

Woo. No bueno, right?

Well, today’s study deals with something else that seems to be linked to dark triad traits: Sexism, specifically misogynistic sexism.

Sexist Beliefs Are Linked to Dark Triad Personality Traits

A recent study of a group of men and women found the following:

  • Men in the study scored higher on dark triad traits than women did. (This was expected as it has been found in previous studies.)
  • Two kinds of sexist beliefs were studied, hostile sexism (beliefs in which women are objectified, degraded, or vilified) and benevolent sexism (paternalistic beliefs that suggest that women are weaker/lesser and/or need to be protected).
  • Men were more likely to espouse sexist beliefs towards women than women in the the study were, of both kinds, hostile and benevolent.
  •  There was a correlation between overall sexism scores and dark triad personality traits — seen in both men and women.
  • In men (but not in women), hostile sexism scores in particular were especially linked with dark triad personality traits.

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Quite an interesting study. Since it’s correlational, there’s no telling if there’s a causality here (because there could be hidden mediating variables confounding the link), and even if there were one, there’s no telling which direction it would go in.

Still, it’s something to chew on.

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Curious how you’d score on dark triad personality traits? Here’s a quiz.

Also, it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s a light triad of personality traits, too — here’s a link to the Psyched article on that. (There’s a quiz linked at the end of that article where you can test yourself on those traits, too.)

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This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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