What is the D factor that defines the “dark features” of the personality such as selfishness, resentment or psychopathy

What is the D factor that defines the “dark features” of the personality such as selfishness, resentment or psychopathy


According to a new study, the D factor is the common core that share dark features of our personality.

More than 100 years ago, Charles Spearman said that intelligence is made up of a general factor: the so-called factor G.

According to the English psychologist’s theory, this explains why people who score high on a specific type of intelligence test are likely to get a similar score on other intelligence tests.

A century later, experts say that this same trend can also be applied to explain the “malevolence” or the “dark side” of people.

And they also gave it a name. It is “factor D”.

A new investigation carried out by a team of psychologists from Germany and Denmark suggests that characteristics such as selfishness, rancor or sadism share the same common denominator.

And although it seems much more usual for a person to be selfish rather than psychopathic, the fact is that the study shows that all the dark aspects of the human personality are closely related and based on the same tendency.

Or in other words: if you have one of these traits, it is very likely that you can develop one of the others .

Selfish children.
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Image caption According to the study, selfishness shares a common denominator with other dark features such as rancor or narcissism.

This means, according to the researchers, that if a person exhibits a specific malevolent behavior (such as a taste for humiliating others) they will have a greater chance of participating in other malevolent activities such as cheating, lying or stealing.

“Dark features have much more in common than what differentiates them, and knowledge about this ‘dark core’ can play a crucial role for therapists working with people with these specific traits,” said Ingo Zettler, one of the researchers. and professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

“We see it, for example, in cases of extreme violence, breach of rules, lying and deception in the corporate or public sectors.” Here, knowledge about a person’s D factor can be a useful tool to assess the likelihood that the person re-offend or participate in more harmful behavior, “he said.

Anteposing our objectives

Factor D is “the general tendency to maximize one’s own individual utility, without taking into account, accepting or provoking in a malicious way the lack of utility for others, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications,” the report cites.

Or put another way, the D factor is the habit of placing our own objectives and interests before those of others, sometimes provoking pleasure for the fact of hurting others.

This tendency is often accompanied by excuses or justifications that serve to avoid feelings of guilt or shame.

A man holds a white mask and a black one.
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Image caption The D factor is the tendency to put our own interests before those of others.

In the study, which has just been published in the scientific journal Psychological Review , the researchers asked more than 2,500 people to what degree they agreed with statements such as ” Sometimes it’s worth suffering a bit to see others receive the punishment They deserve “ or” I know I’m special because everyone tells me. “

Participants were also asked about their aggressiveness, impulsiveness and selfish or unethical behavior.

Research shows that dark features can generally be understood as examples of a common core, although they may differ in which aspects they are predominant (for example, the aspect of justifications is very strong in narcissism, while the aspect of lack of utility Maliciously provoked is the main characteristic of sadism).

Woman apologizing to an angry man.
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Image captionvThe D factor is also present in the behavior associated with rancor.

According to experts, his research demonstrates how this D factor is present in nine of the most studied dark personality traits:

  • Selfishness: excessive concern about one’s advantage at the expense of others.
  • Machiavellianism: manipulative and insensitive attitude and the belief that ends justify the means.
  • Moral disconnection: cognitive processing style that allows you to behave without ethics without feeling anguish.
  • Narcissism: excessive self-absorption, a sense of superiority and an extreme need to receive attention from others.
  • Psychological right: recurring belief that one is better than the others and deserves a better deal.
  • Psychopathy: lack of empathy and self-control, combined with impulsive behavior.
  • Sadism: desire to cause mental or physical harm to others for their own pleasure or to benefit themselves.
  • Self-interest: desire to promote and highlight one’s social and financial state.
  • Grudge: disposition to cause damage or destroy others, even if oneself is damaged in the process.
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