Many traits can lead to dark personalities, Oakland professor says in book
Psychopathy can easily be characterized as a dark personality trait, but other characteristics, such as perfectionism and dependency, may also sit on the same spectrum, Associate Psychology Professor Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Ph.D., discusses in his new book, “The Dark Side of Personality: Science and Practice in Social, Personality, and Clinical Psychology,” published by the American Psychological Association.
Zeigler-Hill, along with co-editor David K. Marcus, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Washington State University on March 14 officially released their book discussing dark personality traits and their connections to social, personality, and clinical psychology.
Within, Zeigler-Hill agrees that dark personality traits are connected to a host of behavioral and interpersonal problems. But the book expands on research concerning the Dark Triad of personality (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) to say that some traits that have been ignored by psychologists – such as spitefulness, authoritarianism, and perfectionism – can also have important clinical implications.
“I believe there is a much wider array of ‘dark’ personality features that extend beyond the classic Dark Triad,” Zeigler-Hill said.
“This broader view of dark personality traits may help us gain a better understanding of who is likely to engage in behaviors ranging from reckless acts that endanger the individual – for example, not wearing a seat belt – to criminal acts that are harmful to others, like committing sexual assault.”
The purpose of the book was to draw attention to a range of other personality traits that also have dark aspects, said Zeigler-Hill.
Some traits, such as spitefulness and greediness, may have been overlooked by psychologists, despite being topics of interest in associated disciplines such as economics and evolutionary biology. Other traits, said Zeigler-Hill, may have been thought to be beneficial but research suggests that they are often associated with problematic or even destructive outcomes.
Zeigler-Hill, a social-personality psychologist, said he decided to write “The Dark Side of Personality” because he’s always been interested in what leads people to engage in behavior that is harmful to themselves or others.
The Oakland professor said the darker aspects of personality may also have implications for various current events, such as America’s political dialogue.
“For example, it has been suggested that Donald Trump’s popularity is due, at least in part, to his ability to say the sorts of things that seem to resonate with the underlying anger and resentment that his supporters may be feeling – for example, his various racist and sexist remarks,” said Zeigler-Hill.
“The Dark Side of Personality: Science and Practice in Social, Personality, and Clinical Psychology” was first made available on March 14 at amazon.com. Visit amazon.com/The-Dark-Side-Personality to learn more or to purchase a book.