Dark personality traits and sexism: does the dark triad hate women?

Dark personality traits and sexism: does the dark triad hate women?

It is possible to distinguish between two forms of sexism, the hostile one and the benevolent one and it seems that the former can correlate with the typical features of the dark personality triad.


Advertising message The term dark personality triad refers to a set of traits which include: narcissism (characterized by ideas of grandeur), machiavellism (tendency to manipulate) and psychopathy (continuous antisocial behavior and lack of guilt) (Paulhus & Williams , 2002).

The dark triad is more prevalent in males than in females and, more and more often, one wonders how these personality traits originate or where they originate from (Paulhus & Williams, 2002).

Researchers from the University of Florida suggest that the dark triad is the product of society’s promotion of men’s dominant social position over women. To test this hypothesis, Melissa Gluck and her colleagues began to investigate whether any form of sexism was associated with the development of dark personality traits. The study was conducted online in a total of 295 U.S. adults (164 males and 131 females) who completed self-report questionnaires regarding the dark triad and sexism (Gluck & Choi, 2020).

It is important to specify that sexism is a form of discrimination, and as such, it is based on prejudices which can be both negative and positive. Praising a category of people regardless is a form of prejudice, as much as it is discriminating against them; for this reason, the questionnaire on sexism included two subscales, the first concerning hostile sexism “women manipulate men for their own interests” while the second benevolent sexism “women are better than men” (Gluck & Choi , 2020).

Participants had to specify to what extent they agreed with statements such as “Women try to gain power through control over men” (for hostile sexism) or “A good woman should be put on a pedestal by her man” (for benevolent sexism ).

Advertising message Regarding the measurement of personality traits, a questionnaire called “The Dirty Dozen” was used, literally “the dirty dozen”, consisting of 12 items, on a 5-point likert scale (Gluck & Choi, 2020).

The results of this study show a positive correlation between dark personality traits and hostile sexism, but not with benevolent sexism.

Males and females differ both in the levels of sexism and in the levels of dark traits, both dependent variables are higher in men; however gender differences in dark trait levels are not explained by different levels of sexism (Gluck & Choi, 2020).

The authors emphasize the link between hostile sexism and the dark triad as a key discovery, as the results suggest that by combating sexism, negative personality traits in society such as those enclosed in the dark triad could be reduced.

However, this is a preliminary study since the research design is cross-sectional, and the statistical analyzes are correlational, therefore the results act as a stimulus that could give rise to other research on the subject (Gluck & Choi, 2020 ).