How do we define an individual who is evil? You may have met someone who in your opinion is an evil person, but he or she is well-liked by other people. Does this mean this is a bad or good person?
Scientists say that there are certain personality traits that you can look for to determine if you have a truly evil person in your life.
According to a group of researchers from Denmark and Germany, the General Dark Factor of Personality (D-factor) can tell to what extent a person has dark traits which consistently cause doubtful ethical, moral and social behavior.
Over the years, it has become clear that dark traits are often related to each other.
The D-factor is defined as “the basic tendency to maximize one’s own utility at the expense of others, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications for one’s malevolent behaviors.”
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People who score high on the D-factor are for example those who simply want to harm others deliberately. There are also those who refuse to help others in need unless it benefits them. These people derive no “utility” in the success of others. They won’t really be happy if something good happens to anyone but them.
According to researchers, utility refers to goal achievement. For those scoring high on the D-factor, utility maximization is sought despite running contrary to the interests of others or even for the sake of bringing about negative outcomes in others.
As Scientific American reports, researchers “propose that any single dark trait will boil down to at least one of the defining features of the D-factor. For instance, those scoring high on narcissism might be particularly justifying of the belief that they are superior, whereas those scoring high in sadism may place a stronger emphasis on deriving utility from actively provoking disutilities for others.
Nevertheless, they argue that any single dark trait will be related to at least one (and typically several) of the defining aspects of the D-factor; i.e., there is a substantial common core underlying individual differences on all measures of dark traits.”
These are the 9 traits that comprised their D-factor:
Egoism. The excessive concern with one’s own pleasure or advantage at the expense of community well-being.
Machiavellianism. Manipulativeness, callous affect, and strategic-calculating orientation.
Moral Disengagement. A generalized cognitive orientation to the world that differentiates individuals’ thinking in a way that powerfully affects unethical behavior.
Narcissism. An all-consuming motive for ego-reinforcement.
Psychological Entitlement. A stable and pervasive sense that one deserves more and is entitled to more than others.
Psychopathy: Deficits in affect, callousness, self-control, and impulsivity.
Sadism. Intentionally inflicting physical, sexual, or psychological pain or suffering on others in order to assert power and dominance or for pleasure and enjoyment.
Self-Interest. The pursuit of gains in socially valued domains, including material goods, social status, recognition, academic or occupational achievement, and happiness.
Spitefulness. A preference that would harm another but that would also entail harm to oneself. This harm could be social, financial, physical, or an inconvenience.
Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman devised a short version of the D-factor test in his article for Scientific American. If you are curious about your dark traits you can do a test here.