Dark Triad: The Key to Success

Machiavelli - Dark TriadDigby wrote an article yesterday, A Quick Test for The Donald. To be honest, I think she’s lost much of her edge. Even before the election, she wrote almost exclusively about Donald Trump. And this article was especially dumb. She suggested, “In case you had any doubts about our new president being a sick piece of work, take the following short test as if you were Trump.” But do any of us really need to take any kind of test to find out that Trump is a narcissistic Machiavellian psychopath? But I was pleased that there is a name for this group of pathologies: the dark triad.

Learning about the dark triad made the article worth while, of course. And the fact that it linked to a single test for all these of these things — In just 27 questions! — made it all the better. As regular readers know, I love tests like these. I think a big part of it is that they are so difficult for me. I have to fight with myself. The tests are never hard to figure out. So I have to use my limited power of objectivity against my super-power of wanting to look like a Good Guy™.

Dark Triad Test

You can take the Short Dark Triad test at the Open Source Psychometrics Project. It tests for “Machiavellianism (a manipulative attitude), narcissism (excessive self-love), and psychopathy (lack of empathy).” I’ve already tested myself multiple times for narcissism and psychopathy. It reminds me of a David Mitchell joke, “I don’t have OCD. I know — I took a test — about a hundred times.” Strangely, I too don’t have OCD, despite taking multiple tests to find out. But I do — and think this is important — score higher on OCD than everything except for straight anxiety, which is connected.

I’ve never tested myself on Machiavellianism, so I was curious how I would come out. I knew my score on narcissism would be low because I’m going through a depressive phase and that always lowers my score. And I always test low on psychopathy, either because I really am empathic or because I am such a clever psychopath that I always fool the tests. But I could see myself testing high on Machiavellianism — as long as the test didn’t distinguish between successful and unsuccessful Machiavellianism.

My Machiavellianism

As I took the test, I felt sure that I would get a high score. It contained questions like this, “It’s not wise to tell your secrets.” Well kiddies, I have some advice for you all: It’s not wise to tell your secrets! I have learned this from extremely painful experience. The test only contained 5 choices, ranging from disagree to agree. If I could have entered, “agree to the googolplex power,” I would have. So maybe the test just wasn’t up to power of some my answers.

There were more standard Machiavellian questions that I agreed with. For example, “Avoid direct conflict with others because they may be useful in the future.” It’s not exactly something I live my life by, but it makes good sense. And how about, “There are things you should hide from other people because they don’t need to know.” You can take this statement in a negative way, but I consider it an act of kindness. There are too many things people have told me that I didn’t need to know. Why do they do that?!

Vague Questions

There were also questions like, “I like to use clever manipulation to get my way.” On those, I tended to disagree — but not completely. And the questions are vague. I assume this particular question didn’t mean entering the right numbers in your television remote control to watch the shows you want. But still, don’t most people like to manipulate situations to their benefit rather than find themselves dumped on for no good reason?

The answer appears to, “Yes!” I scored at the 20th percentile in Machiavellianism. That means 80 percent of you all are working the world more than I am. And it explains a few things in my life — like my relatively low success despite having really very good opportunities in life. It also explains, I think, my low credit rating. But we’ll leave that to another time.

Pathologies or Key to Success?

I scored at the 6th percentile on both narcissism and psychopathy. You can post your results, if you like. But I already know they will be low. That’s because Frankly Curious readers tend to be pathetic losers like I am. What is interesting is Digby’s relating this test to Trump. But it isn’t really about Trump; it’s about most of our society’s “winners.” It’s curious that our society rewards the behaviors that it teaches children to eschew.

The dark triad is a bad thing!

Also: the dark triad will make you rich and famous!

Your choice kids.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

6 thoughts on “Dark Triad: The Key to Success

  1. I got similar scores, with a 9 on narcissism. I like praise, kinda.

    The toughest question for me was “It’s wise to keep track of information that you can use against people later.” Well. It may very well be wise. Keeping track of things is never a bad idea. When shit hits the fan, though, I never use any of that stuff. The one time I was summoned by a grand jury (after I got robbed at a 7-11), I didn’t wanna testify. “I’m sorry I scared you with that gun” woulda sufficed for me, I don’t wanna put no teenager in jail. But I did it anyhoo. They told me I’d be in trouble if I didn’t. So much for principles.

    That said, if anybody from the city called and asked for dirt on my ex-landlord, I’d sing like a drunk diva. Sadly, that day will never come …

  2. I have the same problem as you with these types of tests–the desired answers are so obvious.

    However, a few years ago, my son had to complete an online psychological test when applying for a minimum wage job at a bookstore. He asked me for help because of the bizarre questions. I don’t remember the questions, but I’ll use an example from the book I’m about to mention: rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 means you’re very creative and 5 means you’re very conscientious. (The book’s examples were something like this.) What’s the right answer?

    Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction (mathbabe.org) devotes some time to the different bogus ways employers try to weed out applicants. These tests are examples of a method that has (1) no scientific basis for distinguishing between potentially good and potentially bad employees, (ii) no feedback to the employer by which they can tell if the test is working or not (i.e., there’s no way to follow up on rejected applicants), and (iii) no feedback to the rejected applicant as to why they failed to make the cut.

    (A very interesting book for the layman, by the way. Only a couple hundred pages, but O’Neil presents her arguments systematically and effectively. And scarily. What “big data'” is doing now and the vision of what it can do in the future are frightening.)

    • Yes. The employment psych tests try to catch you lying. So built into the tests are redundant and seemingly irrelevant questions. I remember one I took that had “how positively do you feel about your mother,” and a page later, father. 1-5. Is this shit creepy or what? And that was for Target or Borders or some such crap job. What happened to job interviews?

    • Welcome to the Loser Squadron! The rules are simple:

      1: Be remotely competent at whatever you do.
      2: Be poor.
      3: Know moronic turdnuggets who are very successful, but kinda stupid, doing what you could easily do blindfolded.

      Presto! You’ve joined the band!

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