All dark personalities have at least one thing in common: a lack of empathy. That was reason enough for a group of Swedish universities to start a study looking for a connection between people’s cognitive ability to show empathy and how much empathy they actually feel.
It’s about their willingness, not their ability
Within the research, empathy is seen as the ability and willingness to empathize with someone else’s experiences. It is an essential part of emotional intelligence.
The researchers surveyed 278 participants via an anonymous online survey about their personality and capacity for empathy .
In terms of empathy, there was no difference between those with and those without the dark three personalities. But when the researchers looked at “person-characteristic empathy”—empathy that you express in your actions—they saw a marked decline for darker personalities. That suggests that these kinds of people don’t feel like showing their empathy to others.
Let me give an example: The darker personalities recognized themselves well in a statement like “others’ misfortunes don’t bother me much” and at the same time were fine at identifying other people’s emotions in an advanced empathy test.
Understanding the dark three better
Petri Kajonius , Professor of Psychology at University West in Sweden, said in an interview : “People don’t really have the right idea of the ‘normal’ psychopaths among us.” It’s not that they lack empathy, but they “score low in their willingness to show it.
In other words, psychopaths, Machiavellians, and narcissists in the general population like everyone else, have the ability to empathize with what happens to others, but they just don’t care that much.”
It should be noted that this study is based on anonymous questionnaires, so it is not known whether the low-scoring people really have a dark personality clinically. “These results don’t say who is or isn’t a clinical case.
In addition, the conclusions are based on a fairly small sample. Another weakness is that the personal characteristics are established on the basis of what people say and think about themselves.” So more research is needed before we really understand exactly what dark personalities and one’s capacity for empathy are.
According to another study, narcissism can be temporary. But until then, if you are dealing with a dark personality in your life, then I definitely recommend that you see what you can do for yourself and for that person.