These Noxious Personality Traits Can Predict Relationship Abuse, New Research Says


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The new StudyPublished in Acta Psychologica This paper examines the psychology of dark personality people and explains why they are often guilty of committing reprehensible acts within their intimate relationships. This paper focuses on a small group of people with dark personality traits, who often exhibit toxic behavior with their partners.

“I began to use the concept of dark personality traits when trying to find explanations for the fact that some divorced people were capable of dedicating the rest of their lives to doing all kinds of things, even using the justice system, to make life impossible for their ex-partners,” reports psychologist Miguel Diaz of Coruna University in Spain.

Diaz measured these toxic behaviors using a set of personality traits termed the “Dark Tetrad” to better understand this phenomenon. These personality traits include:

  1. MachiavellianismThis refers to someone who is manipulative or tricky and who is ingratiating
  2. NarcissismThis refers to someone who is obsessed with themselves and believes they are better than others.
  3. PsychopathyThis is a description of someone who is extremely risk-seeking and has no empathy for others
  4. Sadism(refers to someone who takes intrinsic pleasure in hurting other people)

Diaz and his team of researchers also decided to include a novel dimension, called “moral disengagement,” which they believed would complete the profile of these dark personality individuals.

“The inclusion of moral disengagement is due to the investigations of my team, since any person who is capable of carrying out cruel and clearly antisocial actions needs to look for a series of moral justifications that allows them to think that their way of acting is correct,” explains Diaz.

Diaz highlighted some of the characteristics of dark personality types in his paper. These included:

  • Change your partner often
  • Very short relationship duration
  • Cheating/infidelity
  • Continuously looking for new emotions and experiences through sexual relationships

In accordance with past research, they found that male personality traits were higher than those of women and that men tend to exhibit these behaviors more often than women.

“Within a partner, the abuser continually expresses that he is the victim, and continuously tries to annul his partner,” informs Diaz. “The victim fears going against the designs of the abuser. It is something similar to the so-called Stockholm Syndrome.”

Diaz believes that this is a common pattern in troubled relationships. It is a common theme that dark personalities force victimized partners into accepting small things out politeness. This eventually leads to the surrender of their dignity and well being. Many victims are willing to accept abuse and then call the abuser their love.

Diaz says that the ultimate goal of the research is to develop new concepts and methods to recognize criminal traits early on so people are aware of what to avoid. Cognitive restructuring therapies may also be developed in order to help dark personality individuals recover and minimize the risk to society.

Intimate partner violence and abuse has been a common problem for too many. It is important that people are educated about dark personality traits and how to avoid them.

You can find a full interview with Miguel Diaz, psychologist, discussing his research into intimate partner abuse here. You might not be left alone if your ex is persistent.


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