Human Nature

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 428–442 | Cite as

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 



The authors thank Laura Madson for help preparing this manuscript. The authors also thank Chelsea Adams and Lauren Lopez for data entry.


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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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