Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award





Richard D. Goffin, PhD


There is no evidence for a strong correlation between intelligence and the Dark Triad (O’Boyle, Forsyth, Banks, & Story, 2013). However, the existence of an indirect relationship between the two traits was unknown. Following the recommendation of a meta-analysis conducted by Muris, Merckelbach, Otgaar, and Meijer (2017), the present study sought to confirm whether cognitive ability interacts with the Dark Triad traits to predict deviant, smart lying workplace behaviours. Undergraduate psychology students who were currently working full-time or part-time, or have worked in the past, participated in the study (N = 77). They completed a battery of measures entirely online. The study included assessments of cognitive ability, Dark Triad traits, and a situational judgment test (SJT) which afforded the participants the opportunity to manipulate coworkers and supervisors in fictional scenarios. A series of hierarchical multiple regressions were performed to understand the ability of each predictor and moderator variable to predict unique variance in SJT scores, the criterion variable. It was hypothesized that the highest intent to engage in smart lying behaviour would result from an interaction between high levels of intelligence and high levels of Dark Triad traits. Non-significant results were reported for all hypotheses; intelligence was not a moderator of the Dark Triad–smart lying relationship. Additionally, there was no evidence to show that Machiavellianism accounted for significantly more variance within smart lying scores above and beyond either narcissism or psychopathy alone. Instead, psychopathy emerged as the strongest independent predictor of smart lying. Implications and future recommendations are discussed.


Revised thesis (January 2020) replaces the original. at the request of the author. The author of the test measure and the honours thesis advisor have both agreed to this new version of the thesis