Does the Dark Triad Manifest Similarly in men and Women? Measurement Invariance of the Dirty Dozen across sex

  • Carlo Chiorri
  • Carlo Garofalo
  • Patrizia Velotti


The Dark Triad is a constellation of three socially undesirable personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Previous research has shown that men tend to score higher than women on Dark Triad scales, but the validity of these results is questionable as there is no evidence that the scales used exhibit measurement invariance across sex in the adult population. Here, we report four studies assessing the measurement invariance across sex of a recently developed, concise measure of the Dark Triad, namely Jonason and Webster's (2010) Dirty Dozen (DD). As no validated Italian version of the DD was available, we developed an Italian version and assessed its psychometric properties. Studies 1 to 3 revealed that the Italian DD had adequate psychometric properties, and replicated the three-factor structure and the nomological network of the original version. Study 4 provided evidence of the measurement invariance of the DD across sex, such that men scored higher than women with respect to psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and, to a lesser extent, narcissism. These findings indicate that the DD can be used to provide reliable assessments of sex differences in Dark Triad traits. Furthermore, the results of sex comparisons are consistent with a biosocial approach to social role theory that assumes that being agentic rather than communal is considered desirable for men and undesirable for women.


Dark triad Measurement invariance Sex differences Machiavellianism Psychopathy Narcissism 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in the studies were in accordance with the Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (American Psychological Association 2010), with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

12144_2017_9641_MOESM1_ESM.docx (247 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 247 kb)


  1. Aghababaei, N., Mohammadtabar, S., & Saffarinia, M. (2014). Dirty dozen vs. the H factor: Comparison of the dark triad and honesty-humility in prosociality, religiosity, and happiness. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 6–1. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.03.026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from
  3. Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. (2009). Exploratory structural equation modeling. Structural Equation Modeling, 16(3), 397–438. doi: 10.1080/10705510903008204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Behling, O., & Law, K. S. (2000). Translating questionnaires and other research instruments: Problems and solutions. Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(3), 452–459. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.63.3.452.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Butcher, J. N., Dahlstrom, W. G., Graham, J. R., Tellegen, A., & Kaemmer, B. (1989). MMPI-2: Manual for administration and scoring. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cain, N. M., Pincus, A. L., & Ansell, E. B. (2008). Narcissism at the crossroads: Phenotypic description of pathological narcissism across clinical theory, social/personality psychology, and psychiatric diagnosis. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(4), 638–656. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2007.09.006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cale, E. M., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2002). Sex differences in psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder: A review and integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 22(8), 1179–1207. doi: 10.1016/S0272-7358(01)00125-8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Caprara, G. V., Barbaranelli, C., Borgogni, L., & Perugini, M. (1993). The “big five questionnaire”: A new questionnaire to assess the five factor model. Personality and Individual Differences, 15(3), 281–288. doi: 10.1016/0191-8869(93)90218-R.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caprara, G. V., Barbaranelli, C., De Carlo, N. A., & Robusto, E. (Eds.). (2006). Multidimensional personality profile. Milano: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  11. Chen, F. F. (2007). Sensitivity of goodness of fit indexes to lack of measurement invariance. Structural Equation Modeling, 14(3), 464–504. doi: 10.1080/10705510701301834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Christie, R., & Geis, F. L. (1970). Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Czarna, A. Z., Jonason, P. K., Dufner, M., & Kossowska, M. (2016). The dirty dozen scale: Validation of a polish version and extension of the nomological net. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 445. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00445.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. De Winter, J. C. F., Dodou, D., & Wieringa, P. A. (2009). Exploratory factor analysis with small sample sizes. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 44(2), 147–181. doi: 10.1080/00273170902794206.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Donà, G., Micheluzzi, F., & Boaretto, M. (2006). La dimensione strutturale del test MMPI-2: monofattoriale o multifattoriale? Un’analisi quantitativa e qualitativa dei fattori significativi [MMPI-2 structural dimension: monofactorial or multifactorial? Quantitative and qualitative analysis of significant factors]. Giornale Italiano di Psicopatologia, 12, 293–302.Google Scholar
  16. Fernandez, Y. M., & Marshall, W. L. (2003). Victim empathy, social self-esteem, and psychopathy in rapists. Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment, 15(1), 11–26. doi: 10.1023/A:1020611606754.Google Scholar
  17. First, M. B., Gibbon, M., Spitzer, R. L., Williams, J. B. W., & Benjamin, L. S. (1997). Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis II personality disorders, (SCID-II). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc..Google Scholar
  18. Fossati, A., & Borroni, S. (2008a). Versione italiana del narcissistic personality inventory [Italian version of the narcissistic personality inventory]. In C. Maffei (Ed.), Borderline (pp. 387–413). Milano: Raffaello Cortina.Google Scholar
  19. Fossati, A., & Borroni, S. (2008b). Versione italiana dell’Aggression questionnaire [Italian version of the aggression questionnaire]. In C. Maffei (Ed.), Borderline (pp. 279–307). Milano: Raffaello Cortina.Google Scholar
  20. Furnham, A., & Trickey, G. (2011). Sex differences in the dark side traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(4), 517–522. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.201.11.021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Furnham, A., Richards, S. C., & Paulhus, D. L. (2013). The dark triad of personality: A 10-year review. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7(3), 199–216. doi: 10.1111/spc3.12018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Furnham, A., Richards, S., Rangel, L., & Jones, D. N. (2014). Measuring malevolence: Quantitative issues surrounding the dark triad of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 114–121. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.02.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Grijalva, E., Newman, D. A., Tay, L., Donnellan, M. B., Harms, P. D., Robins, R. W., & Yan, T. (2015). Sex differences in narcissism: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 141(2), 261–231. doi: 10.1037/a0038231.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hare, R. D., & Neumann, C. S. (2008). Psychopathy as a clinical and empirical construct. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 4, 217–246. doi: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.3.022806.091452.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Horn, J. L. (1965). A rationale and test for the number of factors in factor analysis. Psychometrika, 30(2), 179–185. doi: 10.1007/BF02289447.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hunter, J. E., Gerbing, D. W., & Boster, F. J. (1982). Machiavellian beliefs and personality: Construct invalidity of the Machiavellianism dimension. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(6), 1293–1305. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.43.6.1293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. John, O. P., Donahue, E. M., & Kentle, R. L. (1991). The big five inventory-versions 4a and 54. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Personality and Social Research.Google Scholar
  28. Jonason, P. K., & Krause, L. (2013). The emotional deficits associated with the dark triad traits: Cognitive empathy, affective empathy, and alexithymia. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 532–537. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2013.04.027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jonason, P. K., & Luévano, V. X. (2013). Walking the thin line between efficiency and accuracy: Validity and structural properties of the dirty dozen. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(1), 76–81. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2013.02.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jonason, P. K., & Webster, G. D. (2010). The dirty dozen: A concise measure of the dark triad. Psychological Assessment, 22(2), 420–432. doi: 10.1037/a0019265.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Jonason, P. K., Li, N. P., Webster, G. D., & Schmitt, D. P. (2009). The dark triad: Facilitating a short-term mating strategy in men. European Journal of Personality, 23(1), 5–18. doi: 10.1002/per.698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jonason, P. K., Li, N. P., & Teicher, E. A. (2010a). Who is James bond?: The dark triad as an agentic social style. Individual Differences Research, 8(2), 111–112.Google Scholar
  33. Jonason, P. K., Li, N. P., & Buss, D. M. (2010b). The costs and benefits of the dark triad: Implications for mate poaching and mate retention tactics. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(4), 373–378. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2009.11.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jonason, P. K., Baughman, H. M., Carter, G. L., & Parker, P. (2015). Dorian Gray without his portrait: Psychological, social, and physical health costs associated with the Dark Triad. Personality and Individual Differences, 78, 5–13. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2015.01.008
  35. Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2009). Machiavellianism. In M. R. Leary & R. H. Hoyle (Eds.), Handbook of individual differences in social behavior (pp. 93–108). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  36. Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2010). Differentiating the dark triad within the interpersonal circumplex. In L. M. Horowitz & S. N. Strack (Eds.), Handbook of interpersonal theory and research (pp. 249–267). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  37. Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Introducing the short dark triad (SD3): A brief measure of dark personality traits. Assessment, 21(1), 28–41. doi: 10.1177/1073191113514105.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Klimstra, T. A., Sijtsema, J. J., Henrichs, J., & Cima, M. (2014). The dark triad of personality in adolescence: Psychometric properties of a concise measure and associations with adolescent adjustment from a multi-informant perspective. Journal of Research in Personality, 53, 84–92. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2014.09.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Küfner, C. P., Dufner, M., & Back, M. D. (2014). Das Dreckige Dutzend und die Niederträchtigen Neun – Kurzskalen zur Erfassung von Narzissmus, Machiavellismus und Psychopathie. Diagnostica, 61, 79–91. doi: 10.1026/0012-1924/a000124.Google Scholar
  40. Lilienfeld, S. O., & Fowler, K. A. (2005). The self-report assessment of psychopathy. Problems, pitfalls, and promises. In C. J. Patrick (Ed.), Handbook of psychopathy (pp. 107–132). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  41. Lopes, J., & Fletcher, C. (2004). Fairness of impression management in employment interviews: A cross-country study of the role of equity and Machiavellianism. Social Behavior and Personality, 32(8), 747–768. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2004.32.8.747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lorenzo-Seva, U., & ten Berge, J. M. F. (2006). Tucker’s congruence coefficient as a meaningful index of factor similarity. Methodology, 2(2), 57–64. doi: 10.1027/1614-2241.2.2.57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Maples, J. L., Lamkin, J., & Miller, J. D. (2014). A test of two brief measures of the dark triad: The dirty dozen and short dark triad. Psychological Assessment, 26(1), 326–331. doi: 10.1037/a0035084.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Marsh, H. W., Hau, K.-T., Balla, J. R., & Grayson, D. (1998). Is more ever too much? The number of indicators per factor in confirmatory factor analysis. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 33(2), 181–122. doi: 10.1207/s15327906mbr3302_1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Marsh, H. W., Hau, K.-T., & Wen, Z. (2004). In search of golden rules: Comment on hypothesis-testing approaches to setting cutoff values for fit indexes and dangers in overgeneralizing Hu and Bentler’s (1999) findings. Structural Equation Modeling, 11(3), 320–341. doi: 10.1207/s15328007sem1103_2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Marsh, H. W., Lüdtke, O., Muthén, B., Asparouhov, T., Morin, A. J. S., Trautwein, U., & Nagengast, B. (2010). A new look at the big five factor structure through exploratory structural equation modeling. Psychological Assessment, 22(3), 471–491. doi: 10.1037/a0019227.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Mealey, L., Aird, R. B., Yamamoto, T., Alexander, R. D., Allen, H., Lindner, L., & Murphy, D. L. (1995). The sociobiology of sociopathy: An integrated evolutionary model. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 18(3), 523. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X00039595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Miller, J. D., Dir, A., Gentile, B., Wilson, L., Pryor, L. R., & Campbell, W. K. (2010). Searching for a vulnerable dark triad: Comparing factor 2 psychopathy, vulnerable narcissism, and borderline personality disorder. Journal of Personality, 78(5), 1529–1564. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.201.0066.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Miller, J. D., Few, L. R., Seibert, L. A., Watts, A., Zeichner, A., & Lynam, D. R. (2012). An examination of the dirty dozen measure of psychopathy: A cautionary tale about the costs of brief measures. Psychological Assessment, 24(4), 1048–1053. doi: 10.1037/a0028583.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Millsap, R. E. (2011). Statistical approaches to measurement invariance. New York: Taylor & Francis Ltd..Google Scholar
  51. Morf, C. C., & Rhodewalt, F. (2001). Expanding the dynamic self-regulatory processing model of narcissism: Research directions for the future. Psychological Inquiry, 12(4), 243–251. doi: 10.1207/S15327965PLI1204_3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Muris, P., Meesters, C., & Timmermans, A. (2013). Some youths have a gloomy side: Correlates of the dark triad personality traits in non-clinical adolescents. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 44(5), 658–665. doi: 10.1007/s10578-013-0359-9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Muthén, B., & Muthén, L. (1998-2012). Mplus user’s guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  54. Muthén, L., & Muthén, B. (2002). How to use a Monte Carlo study to decide on sample size and determine power. Structural Equation Modeling, 9(4), 599–562. doi: 10.1207/S15328007SEM0904_8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. O’Boyle, E. H. J., Forsyth, D. R., Banks, G. C., & McDaniel, M. A. (2012). A meta-analysis of the dark triad and work behavior: A social exchange perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(3), 557–579. doi: 10.1037/a0025679.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. O’Boyle, E. H., Forsyth, D. R., Banks, G. C., Story, P. A., & White, C. D. (2015). A meta-analytic test of redundancy and relative importance of the dark triad and five-factor model of personality. Journal of Personality, 83(6), 644–664. doi: 10.1111/jopy.12126.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Pancheri, P., & Sirigatti, S. (Eds.). (1995). MMPI-2 - Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory - 2. Manuale. Firenze: Giunti O.S.Google Scholar
  58. Paulhus, D. L. (2002). Socially desirable responding: The evolution of a construct. In D. N. Jackson & D. E. Wiley (Eds.), The role of constructs in psychological and educational measurement. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  59. Paulhus, D. L., & John, O. P. (1998). Egoistic and moralistic biases in self-perception: The interplay of self-deceptive styles with basic traits and motives. Journal of Personality, 66(6), 1025. doi: 10.1111/1467-6494.00041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. M. (2002). The dark triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of Research in Personality, 36(6), 556–563. doi: 10.1016/S0092-6566(02)00505-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Paulhus, D. L., Hemphill, J. F., & Hare, R. D. (2009). Manual for the self-report psychopathy scale (SRP-III). Toronto: Mulit-Health Systems.Google Scholar
  62. Penke, L., & Asendorpf, J. B. (2008). Beyond global sociosexual orientations: A more differentiated look at sociosexuality and its effects on courtship and romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1113–1135. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.95.5.1113.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Prezza, M., Trombaccia, F. R., & Armento, L. (1997). La scala dell’autostima di Rosenberg: traduzione e validazione italiana [The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale: Italian translation and validation]. Bollettino Di Psicologia Applicata, 223, 35–44.Google Scholar
  64. Raskin, R. N., & Hall, C. S. (1979). A narcissistic personality inventory. Psychological Reports, 45(2), 59. doi: 10.2466/pr.1979.45.2.590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Raskin, R., Novacek, J., & Hogan, R. (1991). Narcissism, self-esteem, and defensive self-enhancement. Journal of Personality, 59(March 1991), 19–38. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1991.tb00766.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Rauthmann, J. F. (2011). Acquisitive or protective self-presentation of dark personalities? Associations among the dark triad and self-monitoring. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(4), 502–508. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.05.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ray, J. V., Hall, J., Rivera-Hudson, N., Poythress, N. G., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Morano, M. (2013). The relation between self-reported psychopathic traits and distorted response styles: A meta-analytic review. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 4(1), 1–14. doi: 10.1037/a0026482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Revelle, W. (2015). psych: Procedures for Personality and Psychological Research. Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA, Version = 1.5.4.
  69. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rudman, L. A., Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., & Nauts, S. (2012). Status incongruity and backlash effects: Defending the gender hierarchy motivates prejudice against female leaders. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 165–179. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.1.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sherry, S. B., Hewitt, P. L., Besser, A., Flett, G. L., & Klein, C. (2006). Machiavellianism, trait perfectionism, and perfectionistic self-presentation. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(4), 829–839. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2005.09.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Snyder, M., Simpson, J. A., & Gangestad, S. (1986). Personality and sexual relations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(1), 181–119. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.51.1.181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Tucker, L. R. (1951). A method for synthesis of factor analysis studies (personnel research section. Report no. 984). Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  74. Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2003). “Isn’t it fun to get the respect that we’re going to deserve?” narcissism, social rejection, and aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(2), 261–272. doi: 10.1177/0146167202239051.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Ubbiali, A., Chiorri, C., Hampton, P., & Donati, D. (2013). Psychometric properties of the Italian adaptation of the big five inventory (BFI). Bollettino di Psicologia Applicata, 266, 37–48.Google Scholar
  76. Velicer, W. (1976). Determining the number of components from the matrix of partial correlations. Psychometrika, 41(3), 321–327. doi: 10.1007/BF02293557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Velotti, P., Elison, J., & Garofalo, C. (2014). Shame and aggression: Different trajectories and implications. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19(4), 454–461. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2014.04.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Webster, G. D., & Bryan, A. (2007). Sociosexual attitudes and behaviors: Why two factors are better than one. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 917–922. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2006.08.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Webster, G. D., & Jonason, P. K. (2013). Putting the “IRT” in “dirty”: Item response theory analyses of the dark triad dirty dozen-an efficient measure of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(2), 302–306. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.08.027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Widaman, K. F., Little, T. D., Preacher, K. J., & Sawalani, G. M. (2011). On creating and using short forms of scales in secondary research. In K. H. Trzesniewski, M. B. Donnellan, & R. E. Lucas (Eds.), Secondary data analysis: An introduction for psychologists (pp. 39–61). Washington: American Psychological Association. doi: 10.1037/12350-003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wiggins, J. S., & Pincus, A. L. (1989). Conceptions of personality disorders and dimensions of personality. Psychological Assessment, 1(4), 305–316. doi: 10.1037//1040-359.1.4.305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wilson, D. S., Near, D., & Miller, R. R. (1996). Machiavellianism: A synthesis of the evolutionary and psychological literatures. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 285–299. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.119.2.285.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2012). Biosocial construction of sex differences and similarities in behavior. In J. M. Olson & P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol.46) (pp. 55–123). Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational SciencesUniversity of GenovaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Developmental PsychologyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations