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Research Psychologists Define the 'Dark Core of Personality' in 2018

October 15, 2018


Dysfunction of the orbitofrontal cortex, among other areas, is implicated in the mechanism of psychopathy.Graphic credit: PaulWicks (talk) - The original image was uploaded on en.wikipedia as en:Image:OFC.JPG (log), Public Domain,

Editor's note: The first half of this quiz is about the dark side of all humans. The second half is about very recent research which focuses on the neurotic behavior that can occur in humans, when the dark core becomes conscious without being understood consciously. Such an individual acts-out, rage in a manner destructive to self and society. Society labels this behavior psychopathic and categorizes certain dark traits, as related to one another. The psychoanalytic approach is to become, slowly aware of the dark feelings in each unconscious human mind, understand them, make them conscious and therefore, be in a position to control and channel the energy, derived from hellish rage, into constructive behavior. When one has done this, the individual personality becomes more integrated and better able to solve complex problems, as well as a more tolerant member of society.

In his riveting one act play, Incident at Vichy, it is the great American playwright, Arthur Miller's contention that the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis happened because some streak of sadism or self-interest lurks in all of us. This is Arthur Miller at his most searching and provocative, peeling the leaves of motivation as though they were coming off an artichoke, always more remaining to shroud the core, as in the core of human darkness. Miller, no doubt influenced by Sigmund Freud MD and Carl Jung MD, believed that until all humans finally acknowledge the (usually unconscious) killer within, which means each individual's murderous rage, (representing awesome untamed energy), we will continue to project our own (unconscious) demons, onto others. This automatic behavior creates scapegoats and enemies. The ability to recognize our own unconscious hellishness, gradually enables a more cohesive, wise and tolerant personality.

In some respects, Sigmund Freud's picture of human 1) ___ is more devastating to human self-esteem than Charles Darwin's theory of a common ancestor of apes and humans. Humans are animals with inborn biological “drives“ for reproduction and aggression. Every person is subject to unconscious mental processes that are capable of influencing behavior. Freud changed the view of human nature from that of a rational being to a complex animal of primitive urges, desires and emotional preferences barely kept under control by peer pressure and the repression of society. The unconscious is such an important part of one's existence that to follow the philosophical injunction and really “know thyself“ is probably not possible, without guidance. Freud, Jung and many other psychoanalysts, today, are quick to point out, that with the right chemistry, between analyst and analysand, the goal of a more integrated personality, can be reached. Psychoanalysis is considered a form of therapy; however, it should be available to everyone, since, more than anything else, it is a profound learning experience (about oneself), that each individual should have the opportunity to go through.

Editor's note: One way to know whether or not you've found a well-trained psychoanalyst, is whether or not he/she has gone through a personal analysis of at least 2 or 3 years

Research Psychologists Define the 'Dark Core of Personality' in 2018

Editor's note: Keep in mind that the research in this study is only focusing on neurotic humans who have not been able to acknowledge, understand and control the unconscious inner core of murderous rage. As Freud, Jung and many others have pointed out, we all have unconscious diabolical dark feelings. This 2018 study of the human dark side, looks at the traits involved in acting-out the inner feelings, instead of knowing and feeling them consciously and channeling this energy into a more constructive behavior.

Egoism, Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, spitefulness, and others are among the 2) ___ that stand for the malevolent dark sides of human personality. As results from a recently published research project show, these traits share a common 'dark core'. So, if you have one of these tendencies, you are also likely to have one or more of the others. Both world history and everyday life are full of examples of people acting ruthlessly, maliciously, or selfishly. In psychology as well as in everyday language, we have diverse names for the various dark tendencies humans may have, most prominently psychopathy (lack of empathy), narcissism (excessive self-absorption), and Machiavellianism (the belief that the 3) ___ justify the means), the so-called 'dark triad', along with many others such as egoism, sadism, or spitefulness. Although at first glance there appear to be noteworthy differences between these traits -- and it may seem more 'acceptable' to be an egoist than a psychopath -- new research shows that all dark aspects of human personality are very closely linked and are based on the same tendency. That is, most dark traits can be understood as flavored manifestations of a single common underlying disposition: The 4) ___ core of personality. In practice, this implies that if you have a tendency to show one of these dark personality traits, you are also more likely to have a strong tendency to display one or more of the others. As the new research reveals, the common denominator of all dark traits, the D-factor, can be defined as the general tendency to maximize one's individual utility -- disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others -- , accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications. In other words, all dark traits can be traced back to the general tendency of placing one's own goals and interests over those of 5) ___ even to the extent of taking pleasure in hurting other's -- along with a host of beliefs that serve as justifications and thus prevent feelings of guilt, shame, or the like. The research shows that dark traits in general can be understood as instances of this common core -- although they may differ in which aspects are predominant (e.g., the justifications-aspect is very strong in narcissism whereas the aspect of malevolently provoking disutility is the main feature of sadism) .

Ingo Zettler, Professor of Psychology at the University of Copenhagen, and two German colleagues, Morten Moshagen from Ulm University and Benjamin E. Hilbig from the University of Koblenz-Landau, have demonstrated how this common denominator is present in nine of the most commonly studied dark 6) ___ traits:

Egoism: an excessive preoccupation with one's own advantage at the expense of others and the community

Machiavellianism: a manipulative, callous attitude and a belief that the ends justify the 7) ___

Moral disengagement: cognitive processing style that allows behaving unethically without feeling distress

Narcissism: excessive self-absorption, a sense of superiority, and an extreme need for attention from others

Psychological entitlement: a recurring belief that one is better than others and deserves better treatment

Psychopathy: lack of empathy and self-control, combined with impulsive 8) ___

Sadism: a desire to inflict mental or physical harm on others for one's own pleasure or to benefit oneself

Self-interest: a desire to further and highlight one's own social and financial status

Spitefulness: destructiveness and willingness to cause harm to others, even if one harms oneself in the process

In a series of studies with more than 2,500 people, the authors asked to what extent people agreed or disagreed with statements such as “It is hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there.,“ “It is sometimes worth a little suffering on my part to see others receive the punishment they deserve.,“ or “I know that I am 9) ___ because everyone keeps telling me so.“ In addition, they studied other self-reported tendencies and behaviors such as aggression or impulsivity and objective measures of selfish and unethical behavior. The  mapping of the common D-factor, which has just been published in the Psychological Review, can be compared to how Charles Spearman showed about 100 years ago that people who score highly in one type of intelligence test typically also score highly in other types of intelligence tests, because there is something like a general factor of intelligence. 'For example, in a given person, the D-factor can mostly manifest itself as narcissism, psychopathy or one of the other dark traits, or a combination of these. But with our mapping of the common denominator of the various dark personality traits, one can simply ascertain that the person has a high D-factor. This is because the D-factor indicates how likely a person is to engage in behavior associated with one or more of these dark traits', he says. In practice, this means that an individual who exhibits a particular malevolent behavior (such as likes to humiliate others) will have a higher likelihood to engage in other malevolent activities, too (such as cheating, lying, or stealing). The 10) ___ dark traits are by no means the same, and each can result in specific kinds of behavior. However, at their core, the dark traits typically have far more in common that actually sets them apart. And knowledge about this 'dark core' can play a crucial role for researchers or therapists who work with people with specific dark personality traits, as it is this D-factor that affects different types of reckless and malicious human behavior and actions, often reported in the media. Sources: University of Copenhagen; The dark core of personality.. Psychological Review, 2018; DOI: 10.1037/rev0000111;;; Wikipedia

ANSWERS: 1) nature; 2) traits; 3) ends; 4) dark; 5) others; 6) personality; 7) means; 8) behavior; 9) special; 10) nine

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