Named after the political philosophy espoused by Niccolò Machiavelli, people who score high on this trait are cynical (in an amoral self-interest sense, not in a doubtful or skeptical sense), unprincipled, and cold, believe in interpersonal manipulation as the key for life success, and behave accordingly. Scores on measures of Machiavellianism correlate negatively with agreeableness (r = −.47) and conscientiousness (r = −.34). Machiavellianism is also significantly correlated with psychopathy.
Individuals who score high on narcissism display grandiosity, entitlement, dominance, and superiority. Narcissism has been found to correlate positively with extraversion (r = .42) and openness (r = .38) and negatively with agreeableness (r = −.36). Narcissism has also been found to have a significant correlation with psychopathy.
Considered the most malevolent of the dark triad, individuals who score high on psychopathy show low levels of empathy combined with high levels of impulsivity and thrill-seeking. Psychopathy has been found to correlate with all of the Big Five personality factors: extraversion (r = .34), agreeableness (r = −.25), conscientiousness (r = −.24), neuroticism (r = −.34) and openness (r = .24).
The secular manosphere has pushed the dark triad traits as sort of a paragon of masculinity that should be strived to if you want to sleep with women. Obviously I think that’s wrong. But sinners want to sin, so that should be no surprise.
However, one of the points of contention among various Christians is why dark triad traits tend to be attractive to women. This doesn’t really make any intuitive sense without some careful thought. As a Christian, I think the attractive traits were created by God for the purpose: A Christian understanding of attraction, and the role it plays in marriage Part 3
If the attractive traits were created for a good purpose and the dark triad tends to be attractive to women as well, then it must be true that either — or possibly both — that (1) the expression of attractive traits are attractive whether it is for good or evil and/or (2) that the patterning of attractive traits also has to do with the reciprocal rule to some degree.
Narcissism in particular ticks the check box of stimulating hypergamy to a strong degree. Women’s hypergamous impulses want to marry up, and someone who displays an attitude of dominance and superiority seems like they are going be someone with power and status. This may or not be the case, which is why women are attracted to narcissistic men who actually have high power and status and narcissistic men who are deadbeats. These tick off the power and status parts of PSALM. Couple that with the extraversion where many narcissists come off as charming social butterflys, and you have a recipe where women can easily be attractedto men who exhibit narcissistic behavior.
Machiavellianism and psychopathy are an interesting pair as they are similar and relate to each other. The machiavellian tends to manipulate people to do things for them. Machiavellianism plays off the Benjamin Franklin effect where doing something for someone makes you like them more than you doing something for that person. Psychopathy ticks the thrill seeking emotional side of women bringing them to emotional highs and lows. This is also similar to the fact that I believe most types of BPD are significantly correlated with psychopathy.
Both Machiavellianism and psychopathy have negative agreeableness, which I think tends to be a stronger factor for displaying masculinity. Girlfriends tend to be very supportive and agreeable with girlfriends, but demonstrating manhood or masulinity has always been about being able to disagree and “grow a backbone” with women. I’ve mentioned before that in college that it was vegetarian women who seemed to be the most attracted to me mainly because I put down eating like rabbits at any chance I got. Negative agreeableness with vegetarianism translated to having a backbone and not being afraid to show it with women.
It appears that the dark triad traits tend to tick a bunch of the PSALM and masculinity traits, except instead of in a godly manner it is in a sinful manner. Just like authority was created to be good and used for good, it appears that the various attractive traits that were meant for good toward marriage can be expressed in evil ways as well.
In regard to #2 on attraction of reciprocal behavior, the general pattern is that most ‘social game techniques’ were created to induce attraction and make women want to have sex. Thus, if effective they tend to be the most effective on women who are promiscuous. Most players are probably not sticking around for a dozen dates or a committed relationship or marriage to have sex; they are likely going for women that want to sleep around by a couple dates. Hence, promiscuous men are going to select for promiscuous women. Like attracts like. Likewise, most women or men with physically abusive partners were typically abusive themselves in some way before as they go back to the same pattern of behavior, but someone growing up with a more healthy childhood generally will just leave at the first sign of abuse.
When I’ve seen some of these things in action in real life, it tends to be predominately #1 that is the major factor but there seems to be a bunch of #2 interspersed as well. It’s hard to tell how much of each is involved, but the vast majority of cases the women find those with dark triad traits very attractive compared to most other men. However, it is also the case that women who have average to strong character can spot these traits in some cases and will be turned off in which case I think the reciprocal rule starts to play a stronger role.
Another scenario may also be the common one that I have stated before. The vast majority of Churches are “beta factories” in that they turn men into nice guys instead of masculine men. When women only see attractive non-Christian men they assume that only “bad boys” are attractive because there are no good masculine representations of attractive “good boys.” Of course, women that are still attracted to “bad boys” even with attractive good men around typically fall into the category of #2 where they’re probably along the lines of more culturally Christian than true Christians. They easily fall into sexual immorality and temptation rather than fighting against it and their life goes from Church to total depravity. Perhaps I am giving this scenario a bit too much credit, but that’s what I’ve seen in my circles at least.
Overall, no Christian man should strive to do anything related to the dark triad, but I think knowing about why women are attracted to dark triad traits and being able to explain it to them can typically be helpful with counseling female friends, wives, and daughters to avoid seemingly attractive men of dubious and deceptive moral character. This is a huge problem in the Church as well.
Also, the institute for family studies has an article on how “family instability” increases propensity for dark triad traits. “Family instability appears to be a stronger predictor than family socioeconomic status for a child’s life trajectory.”