Human Nature

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 428–442

Living a Fast Life

The Dark Triad and Life History Theory


The current research applied a mid-level evolutionary theory that has been successfully employed across numerous animal species—life history theory—in an attempt to understand the Dark Triad personality trait cluster (narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism). In Study 1 (N = 246), a measure of life history strategy was correlated with psychopathy, but unexpectedly with neither Machiavellianism nor narcissism. Study 2 (N = 321) replicated this overall pattern of results using longer, traditional measures of the Dark Triad traits and alternative, future-discounting indicators of life history strategy (a smaller-sooner, larger-later monetary dilemma and self-reported risk-taking behaviors). Additional findings suggested two sources of shared variance across the Dark Triad traits: confidence in predicting future outcomes and openness to short-term mating.


Dark triad Life history theory Future discounting Sex differences 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter K. Jonason
    • 1
  • Bryan L. Koenig
    • 2
  • Jeremy Tost
    • 3
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of South AlabamaMobileUSA
  2. 2.Singapore Agency for Science, Technology, and ResearchSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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