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The Dark Triad in the Workplace



Personality represents the characteristic ways of responding to the environment in both daily life and business life of individuals. The way individuals reflect their personality traits to their attitudes and behaviors can occur in two different ways, the positive and the dark sides of personality.

The positive aspect of personality includes positive attitudes and behaviors exhibited by individuals during social interaction. The dark side of personality, on the other hand, is the negative personality traits exhibited during social interaction and are undesirable/not accepted by the society.

It is a fairly recent event that the distinction between the positive side and the dark side of personality has begun to be explored and joined to the literature in the field of organizational behavior. Research indicates that focusing only on positive personality traits is not sufficient for organizational behavior research. In this context, it is very important to see the reflections of the "Dark Triad" personality traits, which represent the dark side of personality, in business life.


Dark Triad Personality Traits


The term Dark Triad was first presented by Paulhus and Williams. The Dark Triad includes the concepts of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, which are anti-social personality traits. The common feature of these concepts is that each of them is associated with feelings of superiority and privilege.


Narcissism includes situations where the individual loves herself/himself excessively and has a strong desire to be liked.

Individuals with this personality trait have lack of empathy and tend to see other people as unimportant. In the literature, narcissism is discussed in two aspects as normal narcissism and pathological narcissism. Individuals with normal narcissism place a high degree of importance on themselves and do not care much about others' opinions of them. These characteristics, which are found to some extent in every individual, are examples of normal narcissism. In pathological narcissism, individuals have a high need for feedback from others, but they take a self-confident attitude by displaying a behavior that does not care about these feedbacks. Individuals' self-importance reaching levels that require psychiatric treatment indicates pathological narcissism, which is a personality disorder. According to the literature in the field of organizational behavior, it is seen that narcissism is related to leadership. At the same time, it is possible to associate narcissism with unethical and power-hungry attitudes and behaviors in CEOs.


Psychopathy is associated with impulsivity, lack of empathy and low levels of anxiety.

People with high levels of psychopathy tend to engage in antisocial attempts. These individuals do not take responsibility for any of their actions and do not have any regrets as a result of their actions. At the same time, their potential to abuse interpersonal relationships is quite high. Individuals with psychopathy may be individuals with low level of responsibility in business life and negatively affect productivity.


According to Machiavellianism, "any way to the end is permissible" and "the ends justify the means".

The concept of Machiavellianism was created based on the principles of Niccolo Machiavelli. Individuals with a Machiavellian approach have a pragmatic and manipulative way of thinking that does not attach importance to moral principles. These individuals are also people who are emotionally cold, hide their weaknesses and display unethical behaviors in order to gain status in business life. Individuals with Machiavellianism tend to exhibit manipulative behavior in business life and behaviors that can be perceived as harassment by their subordinates.


The dark side of personality plays a decisive role on many attitudes and behaviors in the business life of individuals. Although these features are found in individuals, they continue to live among us in the absence of a clinical/pathological picture. It is quite possible to encounter individuals with dark personality traits in business life. In this context, preventing or reducing the negative attitudes and behaviors of individuals with dark personality traits in business life is important for the success of organizations. In order to get a psychology-based approach, contact with keİken's professional staff.


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