Business 165 (Wed, Thur, Sat) – The Dark Triad (Psychopathy, Narcissism, and Machiavellianism)

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  1. What industry do you work in and what is your role?
  2. What are your responses in your role / position?
  3. Can you describe to the function of your workplace / company?
  4. How many departments, how many offices. National or International?
  5. What are the minimum requirements for employment ie Education or Experience?
  6. How many opportunities are there to ‘move up the ladder’?
  7. What is the process for changing job roles ie Interview? Test?

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General discussion about your workweek:

  1. Current projects? Deadlines? Opportunities?
  2. Anything of interest happening?



1. Have you ever had a boss that you thought might be a psychopath? Well, you may be right. Psychopathy, Narcissism, and Machiavellianism, otherwise known as the dark triad, are often well represented in upper management, an environment in which they thrive. Scroll down to learn more and to better understand why these personality traits have survived.

dark triad

2. In psychology, the dark triad represents three personality traits: Narcissism, Psychopathy and Machiavellianism. If we were to ask the three, “who has the darkest personality?” The Narcissist would say “me”, the Psychopath would say, “I don’t care” and the Machiavellian would say “it’s whoever I want it to be”.

3. People scoring high on the 3 traits are more likely to commit crimes, and create severe social problems in society, families and organizations. This is why the research on the dark triad is used widely in law enforcement, psychology, and business. Here is an overview of what we know.


Which characters in history do you think best fit the descritption of a pyschopath?

4. The Narcissist displays grandiosity, entitlement, and superiority and wants nothing more than admiration. Once he gets what he wants, the narcissist is rarely interested in other people. When he does care, it’s to enhance his status, which is why he likes to mingle with successful others.

5. They seem as though they’re completely in love with themselves, but at the root of their inflated egos are often deeply-held feelings of inferiority. To protect their constructed self, they can never admit to being wrong, which is why they lie or blame others.


6. Machiavellians are unprincipled, cold, and have a cynical view of other human beings.   They like money, power, and winning, and they use manipulation to get what they want or exploit others. If manipulation doesn’t work, they steal or betray. Those high on the spectrum believe it’s better to be feared than being liked and offend others as a strategy to control them.

Are there any benefits to being/knowing someone with these traits? Why?


7. When you are a psychopath, you come across as cold and others think you are scary. You also show little to no fear, act impulsively and you enjoy mental thrills. Those high on the spectrum don’t form any emotional bonds. The result is a complete lack of compassion. That means they have no problem being mean. If something terrible happens, they later often don’t feel any remorse or guilt


8. The research tells us that men score significantly higher on all three compared to women. And while these three personalities are empirically distinct, they do overlap. Clinically, both narcissism and psychopathy are regarded as mental disorders, while Machiavellianism isn’t.



9. Whether nature or nurture is responsible for these traits has been somewhat answered by twin studies that show that narcissism and psychopathy have substantial genetic components. Machiavellianism seems to be less prevalent in pairs of twins. However, the environment also matters. A psychopath may not only pass down her genes but influence a child by being a role model. A machiavellian father shares with his son not only genetic material but might also show him all his tricks. The son of a narcissist, not only gets his dad’s chromosomes, but maybe also experiences his perfectionism. 


Have you ever had a boss or co-worker that you thought might be machiavellian, a narcissist or a psychopath? Discuss

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