A study conducted by researchers from Mississippi State University indicates that there are some differences in the way in which people with “dark” personality traits, specifically, interact with the Covid-19 virus.
It is referred to as a dark personality, one that carries traits such as narcissism (utter selfishness), psychopathy, sadism, and Machiavellianism.
Machiavellianism is used to describe people who persist in approaching those with power and influence in every way.
A sadistic personality is one that enjoys inflicting harm on others, and is often associated with negative social consequences. It is referred to in psychology to describe its owner as the “dark quadrant”.
But can these personality traits predict how individuals will respond to a global crisis?
The study, which looked at the responses of a research community of 402 individuals in the United States between the ages of 18 and 78, found that there are some subtle differences, linked to personality traits.
“Our findings indicate that during the early stages of the epidemic in the United States, the dark personality differently predicted cognitive and emotional responses to the epidemic,” the authors said in their paper, published on the US National Library of Medicine website.
Researchers asked individuals to fill out an online questionnaire about their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors during the pandemic, and their dark personality traits were graded using the Dirty Dozen scale and the sadistic personality assessment test.
Interestingly, people with narcissistic and Machiavellian traits emotionally struggled with the social turmoil that came with the pandemic.
But those who classified themselves as having sadistic traits reported a significant positive effect in response to the Coronavirus.
“These individuals may be deriving pleasure from events that are generally perceived to have a negative impact on society,” the authors wrote.
This is a study that included self-reporting and simple “yes” or “no” answers, so it does not carry an accurate scientific result.
It also doesn’t mean that the people in the study were narcissistic or sadistic – simply because they expressed some of these traits.
But it is an interesting and important insight into how different types of personalities respond to widespread social unrest, such as the one we are currently experiencing.Science Alert“.
In addition to emotional responses, the researchers looked at how personality types alter their behavior in response to the pandemic.
They found that those with narcissistic traits were less involved in regular cleaning behaviors, such as wiping over frequently touched areas.
Whereas, individuals with Machiavellian characteristics were more afraid of contracting the virus.
This may seem counterintuitive, but researchers say this is backed by previous research that found narcissists may engage in positive social behaviors to gain approval from others.
Two previous studies, published in July and November, found that some dark personality traits can predict how likely people are to follow public health advice, such as social distancing and wearing a mask.
The researchers suggest that this difference in findings may be due to the fact that the epidemic is a “robust situation” in which situational cues override the role of personality “in predicting people’s behavior.