Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Carrie V. Smith

Relational Format



The Dark Triad is composed of three related subclinical personality traits: narcissism (excessive self-love, need for attention), psychopathy (cold, remorseless), and Machiavellianism (manipulative, cynical). The present study uses Dark Triad film/television characters to examine how Dark Triad people view others like them. It was hypothesized that (1) participants higher in the Dark Triad are more interested in films/television shows with Dark Triad characters, (2) participants higher in the Dark Triad have a more positive reaction to Dark Triad characters, and (3) Dark Triad participants see themselves in Dark Triad characters. Gender differences in Dark Triad character evaluations were also examined. Participants were shown trailers for films/television shows, most of which featured a Dark Triad character, and asked questions about the films/shows and specific characters. Participants were given a questionnaire that assessed their Dark Triad characteristics. Results showed no significant relationship between Dark Triad scores and interest in films/shows with Dark Triad leads. However, participants higher in the Dark Triad viewed Dark Triad characters more positively than others. Also, Dark Triad participants saw themselves in Dark Triad characters. It was found that the ability of Dark Triad participants to see themselves in these characters mediated the relationship between participants' Dark Triad scores and their reactions to Dark Triad characters. In conclusion, Dark Triad characters are generally disliked, but this does not affect liking of films/shows featuring them. However, people higher in the Dark Triad do like these characters more than others, likely because they see the characters as similar to themselves.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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