Sexy deeds done dark? Examining the relationship between dark personality traits and sexual motivation

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The Dark Tetrad is composed of four related subclinical personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and sadism. Using Life History Theory (LHT) as a framework, the current study examined Dark Tetrad traits as predictors of a variety of sexual motivations and goals. Participants (N = 345) were recruited from a large southern U.S. university and completed Dark Tetrad measures and scales related to various self- and partner-focused motivations for sex. Results indicated that greater Machiavellianism was associated with being motivated to have sex for selfish reasons (for self-image concerns, to enhance the self, for stress relief and to exert power, and for pleasure), but also with partner-oriented motives (to give the partner power, and fostering emotional connection with a partner). Moreover, greater psychopathy was associated with being motivated to have sex for stress relief; conversely, greater psychopathy was associated with less partner-focused motivations. No effects were found for narcissism and sadism. Consistent with LHT, these results augment our understanding of the sexual and interpersonal experiences of those endorsing Dark Tetrad traits.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Dark personality, Dark tetrad, Life history theory, Sexual motivation

ID: 241108384