Selfish coworkers, narcissistic bosses, entitled clients — as you progress in your career, you will, unfortunately, encounter all the many sides of bad people to work with, but a new study in Psychological Review argues that these “dark” personality traits share one common core.
Prioritizing personal gain is ‘D-factor’
If you want to avoid one of the nine “dark” personality traits — egoism, Machiavellianism, moral disengagement, narcissism, psychological entitlement, psychopathy, sadism, self-interest, and spitefulness — watch out for people who will put their personal ambition above all else. When the researchers from the University of Copenhagen surveyed more than 2,500 people, they found a common thread between each of the people’s dark personality traits: the D-factor, which was 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, you do not care about what it takes to get what you want.
When you are selfishly motivated by your own individual gain, you will be able to justify harming others in the process and avoid feeling the usual feelings of guilt of shame.
In practice, this research suggests that if someone is exhibiting dark traits like narcissism, they are likely to manifest other undesirable behaviors.
“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),” Ingo Zettler, one of the authors of the study said.
If someone is acting like a spiteful egomaniac to you one day, they may be likely to act morally superior the next. You can use the D-Factor to “assess the likelihood that the person will re-offend or engage in more harmful behavior,” Zettler suggests.
Once you recognize one of the dark traits in a colleague, this is your red flag to avoid them, so that that you do not get entangled in their dark web when they are likely to act out again.