Study examines the relationship between Dark Tetrad traits and conspiracy ideation

New research by the University of Oregon found that people who are exploitative, antagonistic, disagreeable, and tend to have high traits of the Dark Tetrad, are more likely to believe in conspiratorial beliefs.

The Dark Tetrad is comprised of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, with sadism also present among many but not all people with the other three traits.

The study was released online in Personality and Individual Differences, where more than 450 participants were asked to take part in a survey to assess dark traits and any beliefs of conspiratorial theories.

“The present study aimed to clarify this issue by investigating the associations between the facets of the Dark Tetrad traits and conspiracist ideation in the context of five potential mediators,” researchers explained in their findings.

“Contrary to what the prior research might suggest, these results indicate that the conspiracist ideation found among those scoring high in the Dark Tetrad traits is the result of some shared feature of the traits rather than a feature that is unique to each trait,” researchers also stated.

The study revealed that people high in traits of the Dark Tetrad, such as manipulativeness, cynicism, egotism, impulsivity, callousness, cruelty, and a lack of empathy for others, may be susceptible to believing in conspiratorial theories.

“In plain terms, it seems like disagreeable people, who score high in these traits, are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories,” said one of the leading researchers of the study.

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto