Men with higher levels of dark personality traits show a greater tendency towards infidelity

Having a partner with a “dark personality” may put you at higher risk of repeat infidelity, according to a study published in Acta Psychologica diary reveals.

The concept of a “dark personality” stems from a triad proposed by personality theorists and includes subclinical narcissism (self-focus), psychopathy (lack of empathy, implacability), and Machiavellianism (cynicism, acting out of self-interest). Other traits associated with a dark personality are sadism, selfishness, moral detachment, and resentment.

Previous research has shown that dark personality is related to jealousy, infidelity, violence, short-term relationships, and multiple partners. This can be extremely damaging to people involved in relationships with someone with these personality traits, and this study sought to contribute to research that can help develop interventions for such people.

Study authors Laura Ferreriros and Mugel Clemente recruited 308 Spanish university students between the ages of 18 and 25 via social media to take part in this study. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that included demographic information, questions about how to deal with relationship issues, an established dark personality measurement tool, and an established moral withdrawal measurement tool.

When Ferrerriros and Clemente calculated scores for dark personality traits and moral detachment, the score for all variables was below the mean, and particularly low for psychopathy. Men performed significantly better than women on all dark personality variables except narcissism. The results of statistical analysis showed that 24.7% of the participants had been unfaithful to their partner, and in the group that admitted infidelity, 40.8% of them had been involved in multiple cheating. Participants who admitted their infidelity scored higher on all dark personality and moral detachment constructs measured in this study.

This research sought to better understand how dark personality traits and moral detachment work in relationships. Key limitations of this study include that the sample was not very large or representative; It was 78.3% female, consisted of university-related participants, and showed a restricted age range. The authors describe some reliability measures as “extremely low,” which is far from ideal. Future research could focus on addressing some of these limitations and focus on interventions.

The Dark Personality and Intimate Partner Relationships in Young Adults study was published online on February 24, 2022.

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