Dark triad test: meaning and score

The dark triad test aims to identify personalities with components that can lead to conflictive behaviors or situations for companies....
29 September 2022

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Dark triad test: meaning and score

The dark triad test aims to identify personalities with components that can lead to conflictive behaviors or situations for companies.

Personality tests are often an integral part of the hiring process because they help identify skills and abilities that can be useful in the proper performance of job responsibilities. 

They can also help you identify employees with difficult personalities.

Hiring this type of professional poses a significant risk of having a negative impact on the work environment of your organization and that is what we are going to talk about in this article. 

The dark triad of personality in the company

What is the dark traits test?

The dark traits test is a personality test that identifies conflict-prone traits that, when activated, lead to counterproductive and non-constructive behaviors in all areas of a person’s life, in both personal and professional contexts. 

The testing associated with the dark traits test makes it possible to identify precisely the following 7 facets of personality:

  1. Machiavellianism.
  2. Narcissism.
  3. Psychopathy.
  4. Malice.
  5. Greed.
  6. Perfectionism.
  7. Dependence.

The comprehensive dark personality traits test was developed based on the research of Marcus and Zeigler-Hill and should be managed by qualified professionals. 

Among the features mentioned, it seeks to test for the presence or absence of a disturbing rate of dark personality traits beyond what experts consider to be the dark triad. 

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What is the dark triad test?

The dark triad test measures the combination of high levels of machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy, and is a terminology created by researchers Delroy L. Paulhus and Kevin M. Williams in 2002. 

We will detail what each of these components entail.


A Machiavellian person manipulates other people for own benefit through long-term plans and without remorse, regardless of the consequences for the people considered the targets of the manipulation. 


A narcissistic profile feels an inordinate amount of admiration for themselves and expects constant attention and admiration from others because they feel superior. 


A psychopath has virtually no empathy, is an impulsive and irascible person who does not subject his actions to ethical or moral values.

People with a high combination of these 3 traits are egocentric and put their own interests before others without regard.

These personalities in the work environment have an undesirable and unproductive behavior with additional actions such as

  • Harassment of coworkers.
  • Stealing products or materials.
  • Taking confidential information.

These types of personalities are the cause of such serious problems in companies as the ones we will show you and which are a brief representation: 

  • Leakage of talent.
  • Work stress.
  • Low performance.
  • Decrease in productivity.
  • Depression.

As you can imagine, all of these consequences have a negative impact on your project and on your company’s human capital. 

Dark triad test

How are dark traits triggered?

There are several triggers that lead to the manifestation of dark traits.

At this point it is convenient to specify that the presence of these traits in a person does not ensure that they will be activated, but that there are necessary enabling conditions such as

  • High levels of these traits.
  • Contexts that confer a certain degree of superiority, such as managerial positions in a company or other positions of power.
  • Situations that induce stress in the person.

In line with the above, stress contexts are common in professional environments where the person holds a position of some responsibility or is exposed to stimuli that cause states of anxiety or pressure.

dark personality traits test

Main methods for measuring the dark triad 

The dark triad is measured by means of questionnaires with questions designed to assess personality traits that are relevant to the assessment of conflictual people or those who may become conflictual in certain situations. 

The respondent must answer a series of questions that indicate agreement or disagreement. 

In general, two main methods are used to measure the results of the dark triad personality traits. 

  1. Dirty Dozen. Also known as DD, this consists of 12 items grouped into 3 factors, each of which consists of 4 items.
  2. Short Dark Triad Scale. Also known as SD3, it has 27 items analyzed and each subscale has 9 items.  

There are other additional tests that measure the dark side of personality and that some experts recommend as indicators that, in addition to the dark triad, include assessments of: 

  • Selfishness. Placing one’s own interests above those of others.
  • Moral disconnection. Not guided by ethical or moral values.
  • Psychological entitlement. Believes a person should be treated better than others because it is better.
  • Sadism. Enjoys hurting others without remorse.
  • Self-Esteem. Needs to constantly emphasize people’s social and financial status.
  • Malevolence. Obsession with harming or destroying others.

Incorporating personality tests into your personnel selection techniques will help you avoid hiring people with profiles that are harmful to your business. 

We advise you to have a professional and highly effective monitoring system so that your processes run in an environment where privacy and information security are guaranteed.

Combine your dark triad testing with our proctoring plans and detect conflictive professionals before it is too late. 

If you want to see for yourself what we can offer you, request us a free demo where we will explain how SMOWL fits into your various projects thanks to customized solutions.

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