Director: Eric R. Dahlen, Ph.D.
Here’s the abstract from the upcoming paper:
The citation is as follows:
Relational aggression has been linked to many forms of psychological maladjustment. Identifying the personality traits associated with the perpetration of relational aggression offers promise in improving our ability to understand, prevent, and treat relationally aggressive behaviors. Much of the research to date has utilized the Five Factor Model; however, the HEXACO model of personality (Ashton et al., 2004) may offer some advantages in studying aggression. Moreover, the manipulative and often covert nature of relational aggression suggests that the Dark Triad personality traits are likely to be relevant. This study explored the utility of the HEXACO model and Dark Triad in predicting relational aggression in college students’ (N = 442) peer relationships. Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness predicted proactive and reactive relational aggression, and Emotionality also predicted reactive relational aggression. Pathological narcissism and psychopathy predicted proactive and reactive relational aggression while taking respondent gender and the full HEXACO model into account, with vulnerable narcissism and psychopathy serving as positive predictors and grandiose narcissism serving as a negative predictor. Findings support the utility of both the HEXACO and Dark Triad models in understanding peer relational aggression among emerging adults.
Knight, N. M., Dahlen, E. R., Bullock-Yowell, E., & Madson, M. B. (in press). The HEXACO model of personality and Dark Triad in relational aggression. Personality and Individual Differences.
There is reason to believe that social and emotional intelligence are positive predictors of relational aggression, and some have suggested that certain levels of these forms of intelligence might be necessary for relational aggression to occur (or at least to be successful). At the same time, there is no reason to think that social or emotional intelligence would be sufficient to produce relational aggression. Thus, we plan to examine the degree to which psychopathic traits might inform our understanding of this relationship.
Congratulations to Savannah on a successful thesis proposal!
Morgan grew up in Madison, Mississippi and completed her undergraduate work in psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked in the Personality Assessment and Clinical Outcomes (PACO) Lab. This work led to a poster presentation at the Undergraduate Symposium on Research and Creative Activity on the Five Factor Model of personality and treatment preference.
When asked about what drew her to the Counseling Psychology Master's Program, Morgan said she liked the program atmosphere and the people involved in the program. She also noted that she liked the program's emphasis on diversity and the flexibility of the program (i.e., students receive training that prepares them to pursue a variety of different career and/or academic pathways).
When it comes to research, Morgan's interests include dark personality traits, forensic psychology, and juvenile offenders. Morgan’s aims to pursue a doctorate in counseling psychology and hopes to work with adolescents and/or juvenile offender populations. During her free time, Morgan’s hobbies include hanging out with friends, enjoying time with her dog, and singing.
When asked about what advice she would offer to potential applicants, Morgan said that it is important to start the process of preparing for graduate school applications as early as possible to make sure one meets all the deadlines. Good advice!
- Post contributed by Adijah Battle
Growing up in a military home, Amber moved around a lot. She started her post-secondary studies at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. At the end of this two-year program, she received an Associate of Arts in preparatory science and transferred to the University Southern Mississippi in 2016. She wanted to carry on the tradition of her father and brothers and also stay close to home.
Over the summer, Amber presented a poster on jealously and relationship satisfaction in romantic relationships at the MSU research symposium. Currently, she enjoys working with the Dark Triad in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab. Looking forward, Amber wants to learn more about child psychology and child development research.
Amber hopes to attend to graduate school at the master’s level in counseling or clinical psychology. She is currently engaging in the process of learning more about graduate school programs. She says that the process has been straightforward but challenging. She is actively seeking advice from professors and has found a variety of helpful responses. She is actively working on graduate school applications, GRE, letters of recommendations, and trying to find programs that fit with her interests. Ultimately, Amber is interested in a career as a therapist with the hope of owning her own practice. During her free time, she enjoys baking and reading science fiction/thriller novels.
- Post contributed by Adijah Battle
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.
What is a master’s project? When students with master’s degrees who did not complete a formal master’s thesis during their master’s program are admitted to the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program, they complete a master’s project before beginning work on their dissertations. A master’s project involves the completion of an independent research project that is similar to a master’s thesis but does not usually involve a thesis committee. These projects provide students with an opportunity to progress through the entire research process before taking on a dissertation. In addition to familiarizing the student with all aspects of research, they provide faculty with a clear sense of the student’s strengths and weaknesses, leading to the identification of appropriate training goals.
Taylor did a fantastic job with her master’s project, and we anticipate that she will have little difficulty transitioning into her dissertation work.
The Dark Triad refers to three overlapping but distinct personality traits associated with a variety of antisocial and morally transgressive behaviors: psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavelianism (Paulhus & Williams, 2002). Considered together, these traits involve emotional coldness, a lack of empathy, the desire for personal advancement at the expense of healthy relationships, grandiosity, and a willingness to manipulate others (Jonason, Lyons, Bethell, & Ross, 2013). Although there are well-known clinical manifestations of psychopathy and narcissism, work on the Dark Triad has emphasized the goal of understanding the subclinical forms of these traits found throughout the population (Furnham, Richards, & Paulhus, 2013). That is, most of the Dark Triad research seeks to understand the dark personalities we encounter in our daily lives.
Psychopathy describes a specific constellation of affective, interpersonal, lifestyle, and behavioral characteristics. These include impulsivity; callous affect; poor reliability in performing various roles; a lack of remorse, empathy, or guilt; and a tendency toward rule violation (Hare, 2003; Jones & Paulhus, 2014). Although psychopathy is associated with criminality and violence (Hare & Neumann, 2009) and is considered to be the most dangerous of the Dark Triad traits, its utility is not restricted to criminal and forensic contexts. For example, subclinical psychopathy predicts a variety of behaviors that are not necessarily criminal (e.g., academic dishonesty, relational aggression, cyber aggression, substance misuse) but still likely to be of interest (Kokkinos, Antoniadou, & Markos, 2014; Williams, Paulhus, & Hare, 2007).
Much like the clinical version (i.e., Narcissistic Personality Disorder), subclinical narcissism involves grandiosity, as well as entitlement and a sense of superiority; however, this grandiose narcissism is only one part of the construct. Another important aspect involves narcissistic vulnerability, which refers to a vulnerable self-concept and efforts at self-enhancement (Morf & Rodenwalt, 2001). While grandiose narcissism tends to be emphasized in much of the Dark Triad literature, vulnerable narcissism appears to be relevant in many areas of emotional and interpersonal functioning. Subclinical narcissism has been linked to aggression (Bushman & Baumeister, 1998), online antisocial behavior (Carpenter, 2012), and a number of other variables of interest.
Machiavellianism is probably the least understood of the Dark Triad traits. It refers to a manipulative interpersonal style named for Niccolò Machiavelli (Christie & Geis, 1970). In The Prince (1513), Machiavelli described several behaviors most of us would regard as immoral (e.g., lying, deceit, and even murder) as effective strategies for a ruler to maintain power. Machiavellianism is perhaps best characterized as the perspective that the ends justify the means. People high in Machiavellian traits are described as cynical on morality, focused on personal gain, and willing to manipulate and exploit others to achieve their goals (Jones & Paulhus, 2009). Machiavellian personality traits have been linked to online relational aggression (Abell & Brewer, 2014) and a number of other antisocial behaviors.
At the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, our primary interest with regard to the Dark Triad traits involves their role in nonclinical populations (i.e., individuals in the community who are not currently receiving treatment for diagnosed personality disorders or other mental health problems) of emerging adults. That is, we are interested in how individual differences in scores on subclinical measures of Dark Triad traits relate to a variety of socially undesirable behaviors (e.g., overt and relational aggression, cyber aggression, dysfunctional anger expression, jealousy, academic dishonesty, aggressive driving) among young adults.
Abell, L., & Brewer, G. (2014). Machiavellianism, self-monitoring, self-promotion and relational aggression on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 258-262.
Bushman, B. J. & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: Does self-love or self-hate lead to violence? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 219-229.
Carpenter, C. J. (2012). Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 482-486.
Christie R. & Geis F. L. (1970). Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic Press.
Furnham, A., Richards, S. C., & Paulhus, D. L. (2013). The dark triad of personality: A 10 year review. Social and Personality Compass, 7, 199-216.
Hare, R. D. (2003). Manual for the Revised Psychopathy Checklist (2nd Edition). Toronto, ON, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.
Hare, R. D., & Neumann, C. S. (2009). Psychopathy: Assessment and forensic implications. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54, 791-802.
Jonason, P. K., Lyons, M., Bethell, E. J., & Ross, R. (2013). Different routes to limited empathy in the sexes: Examining the links between the Dark Triad and empathy. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 572-576.
Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Introducing the Short Dark Triad (SD3): A brief measure of dark personality traits. Assessment, 21, 28-41.
Jones, D.N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2009). Machiavellianism. In M.R. Leary & R.H. Hoyle (Eds.), Handbook of individual differences in social behavior. New York: Guilford.
Kokkinos, C. M., Antoniadou, N., & Markos, A. (2014). Cyber-bullying: An investigation of the psychological profile of university student participants. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35, 204-214.
Morf, C. C. & Rhodewalt, F. (2001). Unraveling the paradoxes of narcissism: a dynamic self-regulatory processing model. Psychological Inquiry, 12, 4, 177-196.
Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. (2002). The Dark Triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 556-568.
Williams, K. M., Paulhus, D. L. & Hare, R. D. (2007). Capturing the four-factor structure of psychopathy in college students via self-report. Journal of Personality Assessment, 88, 205-219.
One of the challenges in this area of research involves the lack of consensus in how electronic aggression (aka, cyber aggression, cyberbullying) should be defined and measured (Berne et al., 2013). Taylor is using what appears to be one of the better self-report measures available for emerging adults, the Cyberbullying Experiences Survey (Doane et al., 2013). We anticipate that her findings will provide useful information about the relationship between electronic aggression and offline relational aggression and between various dark personality traits and electronic aggression.
Currently, Taylor is conducting a research project designed to evaluate one of the few published measures of cyber aggression suitable for use with college student samples. She is using it to examine various predictors of cyber aggression (also known as electronic aggression). Predictors under investigation include trait aggressiveness and several dark personality traits (e.g., psychopathy, narcissism, spitefulness, sadism). Not only is she well-positioned to make a meaningful contribution to the literature in this area, but she is helping to pave the way for future students in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab to study cyber aggression.
Taylor's plans for the future involve pursuing her doctorate in Counseling Psychology, and she is applying to doctoral programs this year. Her career goals include working as a director/supervisor at an inpatient or residential treatment facility.
When asked what advice she might have for future applicants to the Counseling Psychology master's program at the University of Southern Mississippi, Taylor mentioned not to be afraid of asking questions or seeking clarification. It is important to remember, she said, that many people can relate to the inevitable anxiety surrounding the admission process and are eager to help.
As an undergraduate, Niki joined a research team focused on social behavior and sleep studies. She collaborated on several projects (e.g., laboratory-based sleep studies, measure development, and personality and social behavior research). She found that she particularly enjoyed research related to personality and behavior. This interest guided her in applying to doctoral programs and has carried over into her research as a graduate student at Southern Miss.
Niki started the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program in the Fall of 2013, at which time she joined the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab. Niki successfully defended her master's thesis, The Dark Triad and HEXACO Model of Personality in Relational Aggression, in October of 2015. She presented at the Mississippi Psychological Association (Relational Aggression Among Young Adults) and the Southeastern Psychological Association (The Dark Triad of Personality and Relational Aggression). Most recently, she successfully proposed her dissertation in September of 2016, Fear and Loathing in Peer Relationships: Indirect Aggression, Comparison-Based Traits, and Cognitive Vulnerabilities. She will begin data collection for this project soon.
Niki is in the process of applying for a predoctoral internship, which she hopes to complete at a VA Medical Center. Niki's long-term career goal is to become a VA psychologist, and she is particularly interested in the treatment of veterans with personality disorders, substance use disorders, and/or PTSD.
Congratulations to Ashley on a successful proposal!
Savannah Merold will be graduating this spring with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Savannah worked as a research assistant in Dr. Sacco's Social Psychology Lab. She completed an independent project focusing on how social and emotional intelligence moderated the relationship between psychopathic personality traits and social perception.
Philip Stoner will be graduating this spring with a B.A. in Psychology and English from Mississippi University for Women. During his undergraduate career, Philip worked as a research assistant in the Clinical Studies Lab at Mississippi State University, where he obtained research experience in areas such as aggression, alcohol use, narcissism, and sleep.
Congratulations to Savannah and Philip on their admission to the doctoral program! We are looking forward to working with you both.
They characterize electronic aggression as an "emerging public health problem" and note it has been linked to a number of problems among youth, including increased victimization, emotional distress, and conduct problems. Finally they provide downloadable resources for educators, parents and caregivers, and researchers.
At the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, we have just started collecting data for a new study on electronic aggression among college students. We are hoping to learn more about how to measure it effectively and how it relates to some of the dark personality variables we have been studying.
With regard to the HEXACO model, the factors of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness were positively associated with proactive and reactive relational aggression in peer relationships. Machiavellian, narcissistic, and psychopathic traits were positively associated with reactive relational aggression; narcissistic and psychopathic but not Machiavellian traits were positively associated with proactive relational aggression. Taken together, Niki's results supported the utility of both the HEXACO model and the Dark Triad constructs in predicting peer relational aggression among college students.
Niki is a doctoral student in her third year of the program and will soon begin work on her dissertation.
Congratulations to Niki on a successful defense!
We recently started collecting data for a couple of studies examining the possible role of the Dark Triad constructs in relational aggression and how they fit into broader models of personality, such as the Five Factor Model and the HEXACO model of personality.
These studies fit our goal of learning more about relational aggression among emerging adults. In addition, it seems that the study of dark personality constructs may be beneficial in some of our other research areas (e.g., anger and traffic psychology).
Niki's thesis will examine the relationships between the constructs represented by the HEXACO personality model and relational aggression in college students, focusing on the role of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness. Additionally, she will assess the predictive utility of the Dark Triad constructs (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) in predicting proactive and reactive relational aggression.