Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Tony Vernon


The Dark Triad (i.e., psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism) is a cluster of socially aversive personality traits that account for the “darker” side of human behavior. While traditional views have focused on the maladaptive nature of these traits, recent work in the field of evolutionary psychology suggests these traits may be adaptive in terms of pursuing a life strategy; one that is characterized by immediate gratification and risk-taking. The present study examined links between the Dark Triad traits and ability to delay gratification in a sample of 364 undergraduate students (136 males). Psychopathy was the most strongly linked to an inability to delay gratification, followed by Machiavellianism and narcissism. Sex also moderated these relationships, such that women who scored high on Machiavellianism were less likely to delay gratification than men; however these associations were no longer significant when a more conservative Bonferroni correction was applied. Findings are discussed within the evolutionary framework of Life History Theory.