Paper in Personality & Individual Differences
- Wai, M., & Tiliopoulos, N. (2012). The affective & cognitive empathic nature of the Dark Triad of personality. Personality & Individual Differences, 52, 794-799.
The dark triad represents the most prominent, socially aversive personalities (viz., Psychopathy, Narcissism, and Machiavellianism) characterised by a common underlying deficit in empathy. Although, evidence shows that empathy can be further divided into cognitive and affective systems, this two dimensional conceptualisation had not been considered when examining the empathic impairments of the complete dark triad. The present study aimed to determine whether the dark triad is associated with deficits in cognitive or affective empathy as measured through self-reports and facial expressions tasks. The sample comprised 139 university students. All dark triad personalities were associated with deficits in affective empathy, but showed little evidence of impairment in cognitive empathy. The facial expression tasks provided further support for the affective nature of the dark triad’s empathic deficits. Finally, the results emphasised the importance of primary psychopathy, as the main predictor of empathic deficits within the dark triad.