Comparing the Measured and Latent Dark Triad: Are Three Measures Better than One?

Peter K. Jonason, Phillip S. Kavanagh, Gregory D. Webster, Debra Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Could measurement level be a factor worth considering when studying the Dark Triad (ie, narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism)? In two studies (N= 465), we compared the relative fit of two Dark Triad models: one that treats the three measures as separate-yet-related personality traits and another that treats the measures as tapping a single, latent construct. Mid-level personality traits, such as mate-retention strategies (Study 1) were best explained by a three-measure model, whereas the higher-order trait of sociosexuality (Study 2), were best explained by a single, latent-factor model. When considering mid-level measurement in personality, the three traits may provide independent effects for interpersonal relationships, whereas at the higher-order level, the three traits may function as a single entity relating to other higher-order traits. We suggest one should consider level of measurement between the predictor and criterion variables to better predict correlations among variables such as the Dark Triad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-44
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Methods and Measurement in the Social Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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