Follow the Narcissist – Dark Triad Traits and Their Association to Involvement and Leadership on Campus
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AbstractThe Dark Triad Traits (DTT); psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism; characterize selfish and antisocial people who are interpersonally manipulative and exploitative. They prioritize their own self-interests over others’ needs and have strong desires for power, respect, and dominance. Despite being primarily maladaptive, adaptive characteristics that make them more likely to achieve leadership positions include assertiveness, charisma, boldness, and low anxiety (Lilienfield, 2015; Vergauwe, 2021; Galvin et al., 2010; Kessler et al., 2010). These adaptive traits facilitate excelling in group-oriented occupational settings like police departments (Falkenbach et al., 2017), corporations (Babiak, Neuman, & Hare, 2010), and the military (Harms, Sprain, & Hannah, 2011). The purpose of the present study is to examine the unique associations between DTT with involvement in campus activities and leadership positions. Based on prior research (Jonason et al., 2016), we hypothesize that psychopathy and Machiavellianism will be negatively correlated with campus involvement, whereas narcissism will be positively correlated with involvement. We also hypothesize that psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism will be positively correlated with leadership, due to their shared adaptive interpersonal skills of charm. Lastly, we hypothesize that after controlling for shared characteristics, psychopathy and Machiavellianism will independently negatively predict involvement, whereas narcissism will positively predict involvement; and all DTT will independently positively predict leadership. Participants were a sample of 419 undergraduates (82.6% white, 70.6% female), ranging in age from 18 to 35 (M = 19.21) from a northeastern university. Participants completed self-report questionnaires. To measure the dark triad, the Short Dark Triad (Jones & Paulhus, 2014) was used. To measure campus involvement and leadership positions, the College Student Experiences Questionnaire (Zhao, 2002) was used. Results showed that Machiavellianism and narcissism scores independently predicted campus involvement. In contrast, psychopathy scores independently predicted less campus involvement. Results also showed that narcissism and Machiavellianism scores independently predicted greater reports of being in leadership positions, whereas psychopathy was not associated with leadership. These findings support Machiavellian and narcissistic desires to become engaged in and dominate organizations on their undergraduate campuses to fuel needs of control and acclaim (Packer et al., 2021), whereas psychopathy does not significantly correlate with involvement or leadership. Unsurprisingly, psychopathy uniquely predicts lower rates of taking part in campus extracurricular activities, possibly due to its impulsive nature sabotaging efficient collaboration with other members within these campus clubs or teams (Neo et al., 2016).
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