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Personal Disord. 2018 Mar;9(2):101-111. doi: 10.1037/per0000222. Epub 2016 Oct 13.

Differences among dark triad components: A meta-analytic investigation.

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Department of Psychological Sciences.
Department of Psychology, University of Georgia.


Since its emergence 14 years ago the dark triad (DT), composed of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, has become an increasingly popular research focus. Yet questions remain over whether the DT components are sufficiently distinct from another. We examined the nomological networks of each DT component through a meta-analysis of the available literature on the DT. We conducted 3 separate analyses-an examination of the average intercorrelations among the DT components (k = 156), an examination of similarities in each DT component's nomological network (k = 159), and an examination of the effect sizes between DT components and 15 outcome categories (k range = 7 to 42). Our results indicate that the nomological networks of psychopathy and Machiavellianism overlap substantially while narcissism demonstrated differential relations compared with psychopathy and Machiavellianism. These results remained relatively constant after controlling for DT assessment approach. We argue that the current literature on Machiavellianism may be better understood as a secondary psychopathy literature. Future directions for DT research are discussed in light of our meta-analytic results. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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