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Nearly a century ago, Charles Spearman found that “people who score highly in one type of intelligence test typically also score highly in other types of intelligence tests.” As a result, he concluded that there is a “general factor of intelligence.” Based on new research from “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,” a similar “general factor” can be used when measuring a person’s “dark core of personality.”

The “dark personality” traits that the researches studied are egoism, machiavellianism, moral disengagement, narcissism, psychological entitlement, psychopathy, sadism, self-interest, spitefulness. To carry out their study, the researches asked more than 2,500 people to what extent they disagreed or agreed with statements such as ‘It is hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there.,’ or ‘It is sometimes worth a little suffering on my part to see others receive the punishment they deserve.’ The study’s results painted a clear picture.

The research showed that the aforementioned “dark personality” traits are all based upon the same tendency. Therefore, a person with one “dark personality” trait will be more likely to also possesses many others. This “common denominator of all dark traits” is dubbed the “D-factor.” More specifically, the “D-factor” is “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 the future, an assessment one’s “D-factor” may come in handy for everyone from therapists treating patients, to school teachers handling young children, to employers hiring for jobs.

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