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The Big Five and the Dark Triad

A look at the dimensions of personalities in current literature.

Quick question. What kind of personality do you have? Answer to that might fall into a broad and jargon filled nonsense that will take eons of studies to decipher. For centuries, identifying the over encompassing personality of a person was just, really very difficult. Why? Because of traits. So, so many traits.

Traits were used to identify the personality of people in studies and researches for a long time and it used to be the preferred to analyze personalities until as late as 1985. Have a look at some of these traits, try to figure out your personality, based on these traits.

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Traditional personality traits

If you, like any normal sane person gave up after having a look at that image of way too many traits, then you aren’t there alone. Researchers realized the level of fragmentation in their researches because of the mismatching descriptors that you see above. A more conventional and universal method is surely needed to clean that mess up.

There is a couple of ways to do that. One of them is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which has had its validity called into question. Despite this it is popular and chances are that you had to do a test to get your personality checked out using this test at one point when you were applying for a job. The other way of going about assessing a person’s personality is the framework that is known as the Big Five Personality Model.

The Big Five Personality Model, or known simply as The Big Five, tries to clean up the image you seen before where they take all the traits that you saw earlier and narrow them down to an easy number; five dimensions that can be used to group all the traits that had been studied before. Instead of identifying people as an extremely work oriented, borderline, paranoid, ego resilient worker, its now possible to identify a person as either high or low scoring in the following dimensions

  1. Extraversion: Your comfort level while socializing. Can either be an extrovert or an introvert
  2. Agreeableness: Your level of agreeing with others
  3. Conscientiousness: How much others can rely upon you
  4. Emotional stability: How much stress and pressure you can withstand
  5. Openness to experience: How much you are interested in exploring new ideas.

Scoring high on these dimensions are generally a good thing, but there is always a trade off. Usually, it’s not possible to score high in all of these dimensions. As explained previously, the Big Five model is also used heavily in the Trait Theory of Leadership aka leaders-are-born-not-made theory.

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Much easier to analyze then before

The Big Five model of personality was a much needed simplification of personality traits that allowed researchers to analyze how different behaviors tie up to different personalities of people more efficiently. But these researches had one more stepping stone to cover, the Dark Triad.

The Dark Triad represents the opposite end of socially acceptable personality dimensions that had been simplified by the Big Five model. There are three dimensions explored in the dark triad and even though these traits are inherently present in some of us to some level, I hope none of the readers score too high on these dimensions.

  1. Machiavellianism: Defines the ends you are willing to go to win and be at the top. Manipulate, hate, harm, disrespect, anything is on the table for a person scoring high on this dimensions. You all know a person like this, don’t you?
  2. Narcissism: How much self importance and admiration one has on… their own self. Check your Facebook or Instragram for some fine examples.
  3. Psychopathy: Lack of guilt, concern, remorse or raw emotions. So… serial killers, rapists, Hitler etc.

Hoping that you all score less on the Dark Triad and more on the Big Five.

About Mohamed A. Latheef (16 Articles)
Closet writer's husband

5 Comments on The Big Five and the Dark Triad

  1. I’m pretty safe saying I don’t have the traits in the Dark Triad. But in the Big 5 I don’t do well. I do have a mental illness because of my father abusing me, so I know why I have my problems. I am neurotic and introverted. I was always open to some new experiences when I was younger. I used to be reliable to do things, but since I’ve had some mental breakdowns I cannot say I will do something for someone because I might not want to leave the house. That leaves agreeableness. Hmm, I would say I am agreeable, but if I don’t agree with someone about a subject, I always bring up my opinion, in an agreeable manner. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting article and gives the reader much to think of… well written and thank you for the follow

    Like

  3. When you said “Big Five,” I was thinking of African animals like the cape buffalo and hippo, but I really appreciated your thoughts of good mental health! Keep up the good work!

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  4. I would have scored much higher on number three of the Dark Triad — psychopathy — when I was a young child than when I reached young adulthood and I believe I would score even lower now in middle age. As for narcissism, this is a fundamental requirement for anyone daring or presuming to create something, whether it is a painting, a business enterprise or a social movement. In fact, the more a person presumes to lead, the more Dark Triad qualities they need in order to succeed and don’t fool yourself otherwise.

    I might well agree, actually that the Dark Triad qualities can be measured in a person as fairly fixed values, consistent from year-to-year and interaction-to-interaction but no so the Big Five.

    At the very least, all five will be tremendously conditional on whom a person is interacting with. Also, much will depend on a person’s history — both long term and immediate.

    I am reminded of the great science fiction author Philip K. Dick, who was preoccupied with what it meant to be human. In his novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (which was filmed as “Blade Runner”) it required a long and complex empathy test (the Voight-Kampff test), consisting of interrelated questions and images to to tell humans apart from the latest generation of androids.

    I believe that humanness is vested in complexity.

    It’s like we have the cognitive equivalent of an incredibly large encryption key, which allows for seemingly infinite gradations of personality, intelligence and motivation and which defies any kind of simplistic categorization.

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