The Dark Triad characteristics are commonly regarded as overwhelmingly negative, but could they have a positive impact on people's sexual lives? According to a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, people with higher levels of narcissism and psychopathy may have less fear and higher self-esteem in sexual situations.
Narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism are all members of the Dark Triad. Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity and entitlement, Machiavellianism by a lack of empathy and morality, and psychopathy by thrill-seeking and impulsiveness. These characteristics have been studied in terms of how they harm others, including sexual partners, but the findings have yet to be replicated. The goal of this study is to expand and replicate previous research on the Dark Triad and sexual satisfaction.
The study's authors, Benedikt Steininger and Jakob Pietschnig used 896 German-speaking participants who were recruited online. The participants' ages ranged from 18 to 66, with 72 percent of them being female. Participants filled out questionnaires about their narcissistic personality, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sexual self-concept.
Men scored higher on all of the Dark Triad personality traits, according to the findings. Preoccupied thoughts about sex were also linked to all three traits. Motivation to engage in sexual activity was associated with psychopathy and narcissism, but only in men with Machiavellianism.
Narcissism and psychopathy were also linked to some positive aspects of sexuality, such as sexual self-esteem and assertiveness. Machiavellianism was found to be negatively related to sexual self-esteem and assertiveness in women, which may make it difficult for them to have an enjoyable sexual life.
Similarly, sexual anxiety was found to be negatively associated with narcissism and psychopathy, but positively associated with Machiavellianism in women. Narcissism in women and psychopathy in men were both associated with having more sexual partners.
"Narcissism and psychopathy were associated with higher levels of sexual preoccupation, sexual motivation, sexual self-esteem, and sexual assertiveness, as well as lower levels of sexual anxiety and fear," the researchers explained. "Those with a high level of psychopathy also had a higher number of lifetime sexual partners and a higher overall satisfaction with their sexual lives."
"This may imply that people with high levels of psychopathy and narcissism approach their sexuality with more self-confidence and positive feelings than others, while the personality traits can also be protective against negative emotions associated with one's sexual life to some extent."
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the Dark Triad personality traits and various aspects of sexual satisfaction and behavior. Nonetheless, it has limitations. For starters, this study did not include people who identified as homosexual or asexual. These groups should be included in future research. Furthermore, this study relied heavily on self-report, which is susceptible to social desirability biases and lying.