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The D-Factor: How Evil Are You?

Is there such a thing as an evil personality type? This is a challenging question for many in the field. By and large, people who are drawn to the field of supporting others in difficulty are highly agreeable people by nature. They believe in the central importance of relationships, and in their world view, will assume all others see and feel about people the way that they do. Aberrant behaviors, terrible crimes, vindictiveness and cruelty are understood as the result of unjust impacts upon the culprit, who can be redeemed through the right kind of help, My theory of trauma includes the central importance of the concept of malign intent behind an action. Being singled out in some way for cruelty is deeply disturbing, alongside the other impacts. Ironically, I would suggest that highly agreeable people are more traumatized by events directed at them because it shakes their world view so profoundly.

Recent research has investigated whether there is a pattern to the personality types of people who might be considered evil. These studies have revealed a “dark core” to their personality. This has led to the development of the concept of the General Dark Factor of Personality or D-Factor for short. The D-Factor predicts the extent of a person’s “dark traits” which generate abusive, exploitative and cruel behaviors that transgress social norms.

I have suggested that psychopaths score high on conscientious and low on agreeableness as two critical personality traits. This is supported by German and Danish research who have refined these measures further. They defined the D-factor as “the basic tendency to maximize one's own utility at the expense of others, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications for one's malevolent behaviors.” These individuals achieve their goals at all costs, even to others. These goals might also include the desire to harm others. They do not even help others if it is of no benefit to them.

Psychologists found that the D-factor scores not only unifying dark traits, but also predicts the “indifference of indicator”. This to to say its existence is independent of the tests used to measure it.

Morten Moshagen from Ulm University, along with Benjamin E. Hilbig from the University of Koblenz-Landau and Ingo Zettler from University of Copenhagen proposed that it is possible to measure malevolence similarly to how we measure intelligence. Charles Spearman’s showed that a general factor of intelligence exists (the g-factor) because people who get a high score on one intelligence test get high scores on all intelligence tests. The D-factor operates in a similar way. The D-factor was identified by administering nine different tests across four studies. They found that the following qualities constructed the D-Factor

1. Egoism - “the excessive concern with one’s own pleasure or advantage at the expense of community well-being.”

2. Machiavellianism - “manipulativeness, callous affect, and a strategic-calculating orientation.”

3. Moral Disengagement - “a generalized cognitive orientation to the world that differentiates individuals’ thinking in a way that powerfully affects unethical behavior.”

4. Narcissism - “ego-reinforcement is the all-consuming motive.”

5. Psychological Entitlement - “a stable and pervasive sense that one deserves more and is entitled to more than others.”

6. Psychopathy - “deficits in affect (i.e., callousness) and self- control (i.e., impulsivity).”

7. Sadism - “a person who humiliates others, shows a longstanding pattern of cruel or demeaning behavior to others, or intentionally inflicts physical, sexual, or psychological pain or suffering on others in order to assert power and dominance or for pleasure and enjoyment.”

8. Self-Interest - “the pursuit of gains in socially valued domains, including material goods, social status, recognition, academic or occupational achievement, and happiness.”

9. Spitefulness - “a preference that would harm another but that would also entail harm to oneself. This harm could be social, financial, physical, or an inconvenience.”

Scott Barry Kaufman devised a brief version of the D-factor test for Scientific American. The more you are in agreement with multiple items on this list, the higher your D-factor score is likely to be:

The Dark Core Scale

1. It is hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there.

2. I like to use clever manipulation to get my way.

3. People who get mistreated have usually done something to bring it on themselves.

4. I know that I am special because everyone keeps telling me so.

5. I honestly feel I'm just more deserving than others.

6. I'll say anything to get what I want.

7. Hurting people would be exciting.

8. I try to make sure others know about my successes.

9. It is sometimes worth a little suffering on my part to see others receive the punishment they deserve.

To take the comprehensive assessment of your dark Core, go to the Dark Core Website at the link below and you will find the tests at the bottom of the page.

To see a short video on Dark Core visit the Video Page.

To read a article about Dark Core click here.

To read the a deep research study click here

To visit the Dark Core website click here

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