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The dark core of personality and socially aversive psychopathology

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Hilbig, B. E., Thielmann, I., Klein, S. A., Moshagen, M., & Zettler, I. (2021). The dark core of personality and socially aversive psychopathology. Journal of Personality, 89(2), 216-227. doi:10.1111/jopy.12577.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-E762-4

Although dark traits as studied in mainstream personality research and socially aversive psychopathology as studied in abnormal psychology intend to account for the same classes of behavior, their degree of conceptual and, consequently, empirical correspondence has remained limited at best. We aim to overcome this divide by demonstrating clear convergence between the common core of all dark traits (the Dark Factor of Personality, D) and the four prominent instances of socially aversive psychopathology: narcissistic, antisocial, paranoid, and borderline tendencies.


In a large-scale, eight-month longitudinal study we assessed D, basic personality (the six HEXACO dimensions), and narcissistic, antisocial, paranoid, and borderline tendencies at time 1 (N = 2,329) and the latter aversive tendencies again at time 2 (N = 668) using different inventories.


D predicted all instances of socially aversive psychopathology cross-sectionally and longitudinally, with a large effect size on average, beyond the six HEXACO dimensions and even beyond the very same instances (measured through a different inventory).


Bridging mainstream personality and abnormal psychology, the findings reveal strong, theory-consistent correspondence between dark traits and socially aversive psychopathology once dark traits are viewed through the lens of their common core, D.