Sex differences in the Dark Triad are sensitive to socioeconomic conditions: the adaptive value of narcissism in the UK, Greece, and China

Luo, Yu L. L.; Kovas, Yulia; Wang, Lizhong; Stalikas, Anastasios; Kyriazos, Theodoros A.; Gianniou, Foteini-Maria; Likhanov, Maxim V. and Papageorgiou, Kostas A.. 2023. Sex differences in the Dark Triad are sensitive to socioeconomic conditions: the adaptive value of narcissism in the UK, Greece, and China. Current Psychology, 42(26), pp. 22436-22448. ISSN 1046-1310 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Research has shown that levels of the Dark Triad (i.e., traits of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy) vary across sex and age, with males and younger people reporting higher scores. The Dark Triad has also been found to be associated with personal economic status. We investigated whether sex and age differences in the Dark Triad varied across countries of different socioeconomic conditions. We further explored whether the dark traits predicted personal income to different extent across countries. We utilized three samples from the UK, Greece, and China (total N=5,854), whose socioeconomic status varied from more to less developed according to the Human Development Index. Men scored higher than women on the Dark Triad, with the magnitude of sex differences being largest in the UK, followed by Greece and China. Younger people scored higher than older people on the Dark Triad, with the effect of age varying across countries. Narcissism positively predicted income, with its predictive power being significant in China and Greece but null in the UK. The results are consistent with the view that Dark Triad traits may be adaptive responses to environmental challenges. Specifically, the results suggest that sex differences in the Dark Triad and the relation between narcissism and personal income are responsive to socioeconomic conditions at the country level.

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Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary material available at

The original version of this paper has been published with error. The text “We analyzed the effect of age on each dark trait by country (Table 3). Greater age was associated with lower scores on Machiavellianism (β =  − 0.11, − 0.11, p < 0.001), narcissism (β =  − 0.15, − 0.07, p < 0.001) and psychopathy (β =  − 0.11, − 0.18, p < 0.001), in the UK and China. There was not a significant association between age and dark traits in Greece (β =  − 0.00, − 0.03, p > 0.05). All effects were small” has been revised to “Greater age was associated with lower scores on Machiavellianism (β = -0.11, -0.11, p < 0.001) and narcissism (β = -0.15, -0.07, p < 0.001) in the UK and China; but not in Greece (β = -0.00, -0.03, p > 0.05). Greater age was also associated with lower scores on psychopathy in all three countries (β = -0.11, -0.18, -0.05, p < 0.01).”

Data Access Statement:

Materials and Data Availability Statement: The measures used in the UK and Chinese samples are published and are publicly accessible (Jones & Paulhus, 2014; Zheng et al., 2019). The measure for the Greek sample, the analysis code, the data of the UK and Greek sample, and the codebook for the data file can be accessed from OSF ( The data of the Chinese sample was collected by a personal genomic testing company, WeGene, who has confidentiality agreements with their customers. Hence, the data of the Chinese sample cannot be shared publicly, but will be made available through WeGene to qualified researchers under an agreement with WeGene that protects the privacy of the WeGene participants. Please contact LizhongWang ( for more information and to apply for data access.


Dark Triad, Cross-cultural, Income, Sex diference, Age diference

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1 June 2022Accepted
22 June 2022Published Online
September 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2022 12:57

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2023 15:47

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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