Dark Triad Personality Test: Find Out How Much of a Psychopath You Are

Online personality tests have been popular on the internet for years, from the Myers-Briggs quiz to for-fun "which character are you" questionnaires.

One test, the Short Dark Triad or SD3, has been around since 2011 and aims to determine how inclined someone is towards three personality traits commonly associated with malice: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.

Narcissism is the personality trait of vanity and self-admiration and may involve a belief that one is better than other people. Machiavellianism is the personality trait of being unprincipled and manipulative, and may involve behaving in a way that achieves a certain aim by whatever means necessary. Psychopathy is the trait of lacking empathy and behaving in an impulsive way.

How to do the test

The SD3 test can be taken on the OpenPsychometrics website, where many other personality tests can be accessed. It consists of 27 questions which can be answered in one of five ways from 'agree' to 'disagree' and more neutral answers in between.

dark triad
Stock image representing the dark triad personality traits. These are psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism. Getty Images

At the end of the test, participants are scored on Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psycopathy from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. They can also see where their scores lie compared to an estimation of U.S. adults, though the test itself notes that this estimation is "probably not very good."

The SD3 test was designed by researchers including Delroy Paulhus, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, and Dan Jones, now an associate professor of management at the University of Nevada, Reno's Social Psychology program.

Since 2020, there has also been a Dark Tetrad or SD4 test which includes the trait of sadism—taking pleasure from inflicting suffering on others.

What do my results mean?

It is important to note that, according to Jones and Paulhus, there is no cut-off point in the scores at which someone can be classified as narcissistic or a psychopath, and the scores do not automatically indicate any trouble.

Jones told Newsweek: "I would say that scores above 3.5 on Machiavellianism, and especially above 4 should start to get someone's attention. Because sadism and psychopathy are less endorsed—lower mean scores on the scales—I would say that someone getting up above 3 is worth noting. However, these are rough estimates, and there is no 'cut-off' for these scores as to when trouble starts.

"Further, because these traits are measured in a subclinical way, meaning in everyday populations, these scores do not automatically indicate trouble or problems.

"Individuals may score high on these scales, but still find a way to maintain a life relatively free of crime, for example. Traits predispose us to certain actions, but our situational surroundings and behavioral choices matter as well."

A stock photo shows two silhouettes of people's heads back-to-back. The Dark Triad personality quiz tests for narcissistic, Machiavellian, and psychopathic traits. Dmitrii_Guzhanin/Getty

What's more, Jones said, personality traits pose a trade-off. A low narcissism score might indicate self-esteem problems, or a low Machivaellianism score might suggest that one is too trusting of others.

It's also important to note that the test is not designed for forensic or clinical use. It is 'subclinical,' meaning it is to be taken by the general public, Paulhus explained.

Still, there has been some interesting research regarding the 'dark' traits. Di Wang is a senior lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology's School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations.

In April this year, Wang and colleagues conducted a survey to find out whether there is a link between Dark Tetrad scores and attitudes towards cryptocurrency. Wang told Newsweek: "People with a dark personality like Machiavellianism and narcissism tend to take higher financial risks, for example making risky stock market investing." He added that people with those traits may also hold a distrust of government.

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts