Two recent studies were conducted that looked at the relationship between personality traits and reactions to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers found that people that possessed what is known as the “Dark Triad” traits, which are narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellians (unemotional coldness, and indifference to morality) are less likely to comply with restrictions or take preventative measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks during the pandemic.
Both studies combined surveyed over a thousand people in Poland. The studies were published in the academic journal “Personality and Individual Differences.”
In the study titled “Adaptive and maladaptive behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of “Dark Triad” traits, collective narcissism, and health beliefs,” researchers Bartłomiej Nowaka and Paweł Brzóska of the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland surveyed 755 people between the ages of 18 and 78 in late March. The study used a combination of existing diagnostic tools for evaluating Dark Triad traits and a “Health Belief scale” modified to evaluate people’s perceptions regarding the severity of, and their susceptibility to, COVID-19. Finally, the researchers asked questions to determine how likely participants were (on a one-to-four scale, from “definitely not” to “definitely yes”) to engage in both preventive measures like decontamination and hoarding measures like stockpiling food.
According to the study “respondents demonstrating Dark Triad traits qualities correlate with more crime, less compassion, and dangerous leadership qualities—were more likely to hoard and less likely to take preventive measures. People with Dark Triad traits more often believed they were highly susceptible to the virus, while also believing less in the efficacy of their own actions, qualities that “partially explained” their reluctance to take preventive measures like frequent hand washing and limiting non-necessary trips outside the home.”
“Participants higher on the Dark Triad traits seemed to be concerned with negative aspects of prevention and not consider the benefits of it,” the researchers wrote.
This study corresponded with the results of previous studies completed on individuals with the Dark Triad personality traits. Individuals that display “Dark Triad” traits are “more impulsive, short-sighted, competitive, and risk-taking.
None of the participants in the study were infected with COVID-19.
The study also stressed that while psychopaths and narcissists are less likely to comply with coronavirus restrictions, the evidence does not suggest that personality disorders are to blame for social-distancing failures or the pushback on mask-mandates.