The Dark Side of Personality

The Dark Side of Personality
I recently picked up a copy of The dark side of personality: Science and practice in social, personality, and clinical psychology, edited by Zeigler-Hill and Marcus (2016). As you can likely infer from the title, it focuses on dark personality traits, starting with the Dark Triad but including others (e.g., sadism, spitefulness, authoritarianism). What is less apparent from the title is just how far beyond the traditional dark personality variables the book goes, addressing topics around the periphery of dark personality (e.g., self-esteem, dependency, urgency). I was pleasantly surprised at how much more comprehensive it was than what I was expecting.

The book is easy to recommend to anyone wanting to improve their knowledge of dark personality research. Here are a few of the things I found most impressive:
  • Many of the most influential researchers in the dark personality literature contributed chapters to the book, providing an excellent representation of the scope and complexity of this area of study.
  • Readers are presented with information on both the adaptive and maladaptive features of each dark personality trait. This provides important context and helps one reconcile what can sometimes appear to be inconsistent findings in the literature.
  • Dark personality traits are addressed in the larger context of broad models of personality (e.g., the Five Factor Model). Again, this helps readers new to the dark personality literature understand how these traits fit into systems with which they will be more familiar.
  • The book is organized using some of the recent work on pathological personality traits reflected in DSM-5. This is effective here because it helps the reader group variables that might not initially seem connected into broader domains.
I have been surprised by how few scholarly attempts there have been to synthesize the vast number of studies including dark personality variables during the last decade. This book is a major step in that direction and should be helpful in making this literature more accessible.