Everyday Sadism: Throwing Light on the Dark Triad

The Huffington Post:

The Dark Triad. It could well be a cast of villains in an epic tale of fantasy. All three of these dark powers are callous and exploitative, but each is also malignant in its own way. One is charming but remorseless. The second is known for its cynicism and deception. The third is grandiose and entitled, the ultimate egotist. You don’t want to cross this evil trio.

Erin Buckels and Delroy Paulhus of the University of British Columbia and Daniel Jones of the University of Texas at El Paso are not questioning the legitimacy of the three traits, but suggesting that the construct is incomplete. The true dark core of human personality, they say, is a Dark Tetrad. The missing villain is sadism.

Sadism is most often associated with cruel sexual fetishes, thanks to the Marquis de Sade, but this notion is both inaccurate and unfortunate, these scientists believe. A true sadistic disposition, they argue, is one that craves cruelty. Sadists find the act of hurting innocent people — including killing — pleasurable and exciting, and what’s more, they seek out opportunities to satisfy this appetite for brutality.

That at least is the construct that these scientists are proposing in an article to be published in the journal Psychological Science, along with some preliminary evidence to bolster their claim. It’s obviously difficult to study horrific behavior in a laboratory setting, so it took some ingenuity to illuminate this dark corner of human personality. Here’s what the scientists did.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology.

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