Revisiting the vulnerable dark triad hypothesis using a bifactor model.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Scand J Psychol, Volume 64, Issue 5, p.679-692 (2023)


Aggression, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Humans, Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Personality


<p>Miller et al. (2010) previously suggested that borderline pathology, vulnerable narcissism, and Factor 2 psychopathy share a common "Vulnerable Dark Triad" (VDT) core. The present study (N = 1,023 community participants) aims to test that hypothesis using exploratory and confirmatory bifactor analyses. We found support for a bifactor model that obtained satisfactory fits and other adequate validity indices, which included a general VDT factor and three group factors (Reckless, Entitled, Hiding). The general VDT factor was mostly saturated with borderline symptoms items reflecting self-hatred and worthlessness, which did not form a group factor; these results add to previous research suggesting that features of borderline pathology may represent the core of personality pathology. The three group factors had distinctive relationships with Dark Triad traits, pathological trait domains, and aggression. In contrast with the three group factors, the general VDT factor more strongly incremented the prediction of negative affectivity and hostility; the group factors more strongly incremented the prediction of grandiosity, egocentrism, callousness, Machiavellianism, and direct (physical/verbal) aggression. Alignment of the retained bifactor model with influent models of personality pathology and conceptual/methodological implications of the present results for research on the hypothesized VDT are discussed, as well as some clinical implications of the findings.</p>

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