Dark triad and impulsivity – an ecological momentary assessment approach

  • Marta Malesza
  • Kasper Kalinowski


Previous studies have shown that the Dark Triad traits (psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism) are associated with impulsivity. However, prior work has relied exclusively on retrospective assessment via self-report questionnaires or on one-time behavioral measures of impulsive behavior. Therefore, we examined how the Dark Triad traits relate to moment-to-moment impulsivity as people navigate through their natural environment in a given day. For 14 days, 283 non-clinical adult volunteers carried smartphone devices to monitor their daily impulsive behaviors. Participants were randomly prompted five times per day. In addition, the pattern of correspondence between the moment-to-moment impulsivity monitoring and the already established impulsivity assessment methods (retrospective self-report questionnaire, i.e., 48-item Discounting Inventory; behavioral task, i.e., Delay-Discounting task with pairs of hypothetical choices) was tested. Strong correlations were found between psychopathy, narcissism, and self-reported impulsivity. Moreover, those traits showed weaker (but still significant) correlations with both, the one-time behavioral and the momentary monitoring measures of impulsivity. Machiavellianism did not correlate with any type of impulsivity assessment. When testing the association between the self-report, behavioral, and momentary measures of impulsivity, analysis revealed weak to moderate correlations. Reliably, these results support other recent findings suggesting that those three impulsivity tasks probably measure different constructs.


Dark triad Impulsivity Ecological momentary assessment Self-report assessment Behavioral assessment 



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

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Author Marta Malesza declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Kasper Kalinowski declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Malesza
    • 1
  • Kasper Kalinowski
    • 2
  1. 1.WarsawPoland
  2. 2.Faculty of Education, Psychology and SociologyUniversity of Zielona GóraZielona GóraPoland

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