A new study led by Ekin Ok at the University of British Columbia has found people who signal virtue and victimhood are more likely to have dark triad personality traits.
The dark triad comprises narcissism (entitled self-importance), Machiavellianism (strategic exploitation and duplicity) and psychopathy (callousness and cynicism). People with dark triad traits can be seductive.
A study led by psychologists at the University of Durham found that women rated the same man as more attractive when he had dark triad traits. The dark triad man was about one standard deviation more attractive than an ordinary man.
In psychologist Justin Lehmiller’s book Tell Me What You Want, he reveals the most fantasized-about superhero among women is Batman. In contrast, gay men preferred Superman and Captain America. One possible reason that women like Batman is because he would score higher on dark triad traits compared with other superheroes.
Another study by researchers Carrie Haslam and V. Tamara Montrose found that although narcissistic males do not make good partners, women aged 18 to 28 desire them more than other men. The researchers asked women about their dating experience and desire for marriage. They wanted to see whether these factors influenced their attraction to narcissistic men.
They found that young women with more dating experience and a greater desire for marriage were more attracted to narcissistic men. They write, “Despite future long-term mating desires which are unlikely to be achieved with a narcissistic male and possession of substantial mate sampling experience, females view the narcissistic male as a suitable partner.”
Dark triad traits appear to be advantageous in some contexts.
In their recently published paper, Signaling Virtuous Victimhood as Indicators of Dark Triad Personalities, the authors suggest that Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy might be beneficial for obtaining resources.
In their introduction, they acknowledge that being viewed as a victim can lead to a loss of esteem and respect. But, they continue, in modern Western societies being a victim doesn’t always lead to undesirable outcomes. Sometimes, being a victim can increase one’s social status. And justify one’s claim to material resources.
They argue that “contemporary Western democracies have become particularly hospitable environments for victim signalers to execute a strategy of nonreciprocal resource extraction.”
One reason: Strong egalitarian values lead many in the West to believe that any differences in outcomes are illegitimate.
Another is that one of our key values is the alleviation of human suffering. Saying that you don’t have as much as others and that you are suffering for it, can be a shrewd way to obtain material resources.
The researchers examine victim signaling, which they define as “a public and intentional expression of one’s disadvantages, suffering, oppression, or personal limitations.” They also examine virtue signaling, defined as “symbolic demonstrations that can lead observers to make favorable inferences about the signaler’s moral character.” READ MORE