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A Behavioral Genetic Study of the Dark Triad of Personality and Moral Development

  • Jennifer Campbell (a1), Julie Aitken Schermer (a2), Vanessa C. Villani (a3), Brenda Nguyen (a4), Leanne Vickers (a5) and Philip A. Vernon (a6)...

The present study is the first behavioral genetic investigation of relationships between the Dark Triad of personality — Machiavellianism, narcissism, and subclinical psychopathy — and moral development. Participants were 154 monozygotic twin pairs and 82 same-sex dizygotic twin pairs. Higher scores on Machiavellianism and psychopathy were positively correlated with low levels of moral development; high psychopathy scores also correlated negatively with high levels of moral development. Individual differences in lower levels of moral development were attributable to genetic and nonshared environmental factors but, very interestingly, individual differences in the highest levels of moral development showed no genetic basis but were entirely attributable to shared and nonshared environmental factors. Finally, correlations between the Dark Triad and moral development variables showed no genetic basis while correlations among the moral development variables were variously attributable to correlated genetic and correlated environmental factors.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Philip A. Vernon, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
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Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
  • URL: /core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics
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