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‘Dark triad’ of personality traits, in small amounts, can benefit ambitious workers, study says

Posted Jul 14, 2014 5:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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There may be a bright side to the "dark triad" of personality traits, when they are present in small quantities, according to a 2014 review of 140 studies.

People with mild versions of the dark-triad traits can use the skills to rise in corporate ranks, the review found. The Wall Street Journal has a report on the review, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

The dark triad consists of:

• Narcissism. A person who wants to be the center of attention uses charm to seek prestige and status. Such people make good first impressions and promote their ideas with enthusiasm.

• Machiavellianism. A person who influences others for gain and uses flattery and deception to get the results. Such people enjoy combat, and are good at negotiating and forming political alliances.

• Psychopathy. A person who is unconcerned with others’ feelings and welfare is impulsive and thrill-seeking. Such people think creatively and test limits.

Seth Spain, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Binghamton University, is lead author of the 2014 study. He tells the Wall Street Journal that employers who spot negative traits in employees can use training and wise job assignments to help those workers.

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