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The good, the bad, and the ugly: Revisiting the Dark Core

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The aim of this research (N = 268) was to explore several compelling candidates for the Dark Core of the broader set of dark and light traits by using network analysis and analyses of shared variance. Several previously proposed cores were tested: primary psychopathy, narcissistic rivalry, Honesty-Humility, Aggressiveness, Selfishness, Antagonism and its callousness facet as well as emotional competency, including its emotionality facet as negative aspect of callousness. The results showed that central elements in this network are primary psychopathy, callousness, pathological selfishness, Machiavellianism, and narcissistic rivalry. Furthermore, among basic traits, Antagonism shared the highest percentage with the dark traits, especially its facet callousness, which is the best candidate for the Dark Core. The combination of callousness, deceitfulness, and grandiosity shared 92% of the total common variance with dark traits and it could be seen as the Antagonistic Triad or alternative Dark Triad.

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Data Availability

The dataset generated and analysed during the current study and R code are available in the Open Science Framework repository at


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This study was partially supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia [Grants ON179006, ON179037].

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Correspondence to Bojana M. Dinić.

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

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Online informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The research was approved by the by the Ethical Committee of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad, Serbia, which is the Second Instance Commission of the Ethical Committee of the Serbian Psychological Society (code 201911251805_Jnly).

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Dinić, B.M., Wertag, A., Sokolovska, V. et al. The good, the bad, and the ugly: Revisiting the Dark Core. Curr Psychol 42, 4956–4968 (2023).

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