The Unholy Trinity: The Dark Triad, Sexual Coercion, and Brunswik-Symmetry

Aurelio J Figueredo, Paul R obert Gladden, Melissa M arie Sisco, Emily A nne Patch, Daniel N elson Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Psychopathy, Narcissism, and Machiavellianism (the Dark Triad) have each been hypothesized as predictors of socially deviant behavior including sexual coercion, but the three traits also covary significantly with one another. The purpose of this study was to examine several alternative Multisample Structural Equation Models (MSEMs) exploring the relations between the Dark Triad and Sexually Coercive Behavior, testing whether any or all of the three specific “Dark Personality” traits uniquely contributed to predicting sexually coercive behavior. Self-report questionnaires measuring Primary and Secondary Psychopathy, Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Sexually Coercive Behavior were administered to a sample of undergraduates. The relative fit of each of the MSEMs to the data was examined by means of hierarchically nested model comparisons. The most parsimonious yet explanatory model identified was one in which a single common factor composed of the three Dark Triad indicators explained the relationships among the Dark Triad traits and Sexually Coercive Behavior without any direct contributions from the specific Dark Triad indicators. Results indicate that the three Dark Triad traits, controlling for the common factor, do not differentially predict Sexually Coercive Behavior. These results are interpreted with respect to the principle of Brunswik-Symmetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-454
Number of pages20
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2015


  • dark niche
  • models dark triad
  • psychopathy
  • sexual coercion
  • structural equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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