Distinctive Links of Benign and Malicious Envy With Dark Personalities

Researchers have recently drawn a contrast between two forms of envy: benign and malicious envy. In three studies (total N = 3,123), we challenge the assumption that malicious envy is destructive, whereas benign envy is entirely constructive. Instead, both forms have links with the Dark Triad of personality. Benign envy is associated with Machiavellian behaviors, whereas malicious envy is associated with both Machiavellian and psychopathic behaviors. In Study 1, this pattern emerged from meta-analyzed trait correlations. In Study 2, a manipulation affecting the envy forms mediated an effect on antisocial behavioral intentions. Study 3 replicated these patterns by linking envy to specific antisocial behaviors and their impact on status in the workplace. Together, our correlational and experimental results suggest that the two forms of envy can both be malevolent. Instead of evaluating envy’s morality, we propose to focus on its functional value.


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