As cold as a fish?

The Dark Triad of personality is a cluster of three socially aversive personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. These traits are associated with a selfish, aggressive and exploitative interpersonal strategy. The objective of the current study was to establish relationships between the Dark Triad traits (and their dimensions) and momentary affect. Machiavellianism, grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism and the dimensions of the Triarchic model of psychopathy (namely, boldness, meanness and disinhibition) were examined. We used the Day Reconstruction Method, which is based on reconstructing affective states experienced during the previous day. The final sample consisted of 270 university students providing affective ratings of 3047 diary episodes. Analyses using multilevel modelling showed that only boldness had a positive association with positive affective states and affect balance, and a negative association with negative affective states. Grandiose narcissism and its sub-dimensions had no relationship with momentary affect. The other dark traits were related to negative momentary affect and/or inversely related to positive momentary affect and affect balance. As a whole, our results empirically demonstrated distinctiveness of the Dark Triad traits in their relationship to everyday affective states. These findings are not congruent with the notion that people with the Dark Triad traits, who have a dispositional tendency to manipulate and exploit others, are generally cold and invulnerable to negative feelings. The associations between the Dark Triad and momentary affect were discussed in the contexts of evolutionary and positive psychology, in relation to the role and adaptive value of positive and negative emotions experienced by individuals higher in Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy.

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