The effects of the Dark Triad traits in prisoner’s dilemma game

Abstract

A standard way to create social dilemmas in the experimental laboratory is the prisoner dilemma game. In this environment, players are given an endowment of tokens and faced with a choice between cooperation and defection. In the present study a prisoner’s dilemma game was administrated to individuals (N = 280), along with measures of Dark Triad and impulsivity. Dark Triad variables were found to predict the likelihood of defection in the prisoner’s dilemma. Specifically, high levels of psychopathy coupled with high impulsivity may better describe a person who repeatedly attempts to extract defection. Defection was also more likely for individuals who scored higher on the Machiavellianism domain. Although Machiavellianism is also linked to higher defection, it has no association with impulsivity, but, rather, is associated with strategy and long-term planning. Interestingly, individuals high in narcissism with their entitlement and over-confidence had no significant effect on defection in such a game. Overall, the study suggests that two dark personality traits can be a significant predictor of behaviour in the prisoner’s dilemma.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Center in Poland (grant number: 2013/11/N/HS6/01149).

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Correspondence to Marta Malesza.

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Malesza, M. The effects of the Dark Triad traits in prisoner’s dilemma game. Curr Psychol 39, 1055–1062 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-9823-9

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Keywords

  • Dark Triad
  • Personality
  • Prisoner’s dilemma game
  • Experimental economics