Dark Tetrad

Dark Tetrad Personality Traits: The ONE Weird Thing tying Racism, Anti-Vax and Mask, and Authoritarianism Together

The Dark Tetrad

Ye Olde Blogge has written about the Dark Tetrad on numerous occasions. One of the clearest succinctest descriptions could be found in the The Coming Psychopathocracy: How the Dark Tetrad has taken over the Republican Party.

  • Psychopathy is characterized by a callous disregard for the well-being of others, an inability to feel empathy or guilt.
  • Machiavellianism is the willingness to use deception and manipulation to achieve your goals without regard to the harms they may cause on others. These people frequently use ends justify the means type reasoning.
  • Narcissism is the overwhelming concern for one’s own self, needs, and well-being without acknowledging the needs of others or understanding that they exist.
  • Sadism is the enjoyment of pain in others this can be physical or psychological pain, it can be large amounts of pain or minor discomforts that people feel.

There have been a number of interesting political sciencey cognitive psychologyie studies published recently that has got me to thinking that the real spurious variable that ties all the shitty shit that the right is shitting all over us is the dark tetrad cluster of personality characteristics (includes a test to tell if your boss is on the spectrum).

Just in case you may have forgotten exactly what the dark tetrad cluster of personality traits is, they are listed in the sidebar for your convenience because that’s the kind of blogging you’ve come to expect from Ye Olde Blogge, right?

Of course, you can’t talk about personality traits without the ubiquitous personality test link: How Dark is your Personality? Why don’t you let us know in the comments?

Ye Olde Blogge has addressed the personality traits and motivations of conservatives over the years. Let’s take a quick review of them here so that we can keep all of it in mind, or at least within quick reference reach, as we discuss the effect of the dark tetrad.

Conservative Personality Traits

Racism, Sadism, and Narcissism

Way back in 2017, we discussed the authoritarian personality traits as established by Theodor Adorno in the 1950’s and compared them to current beliefs and behaviors of those in the “conservative movement.” It is worth revisiting some of them.

  • Aggression towards those who violate conventional thinking or who are different — Not only aggression, but feeling wholly justified in their aggression. For conservatives, differences are bad. What is the most noticeable difference between people? Skin color. Authoritarians are predisposed towards racism because of this tendency.
  • A professed belief that all people are bad and will lie, cheat, and steal in the right circumstances — Paranoid much? Ever wonder where all the projection from those self-professed conservatives comes from?
  • A love of strong leadership and displays of unbending power — Explains Trump’s cartoonish caricature of a “strong” leader and the current adoration of Putin’s billions.
  • Using simplistic solutions and polemics to address problems — Explains the tendency to scapegoat groups and to seek immediate one-size-fits-all solutions for the pandemic, immigration, abortion, and other social maladies.
  • Black and white thinking, an inability to see gray areas
  • Projecting feelings of rage, fear, and inadequacy onto a specific group — Scapegoat much?
  • Being preoccupied with violence and sex — Explains the plethora of sex scandals occurring in the ranks of Republican politicians.
  • Willingness to submit to an authority — Explains their hatred of democracy.
  • Conventional morality

Ambiguity intolerance is the inability to accept uncertainty and experience uncertainty as a threat. So many of the authoritarian personality traits correlate with ambiguity intolerance. The need for black-and-white thinking and simplistic solutions makes conservatives predisposed to stereotyping groups of people based on appearance, and by appearance, we mean skin color. The fear of being a victim of crimes that many conservatives genuinely feel is ameliorated, somewhat, by being able to believe that all Blacks and Browns are criminals and should be avoided.

Their discomfort and fear of anything that colors outside of their lines is used to justify whatever misfortunes and ill treatment the scapegoated groups receive. It’s the old, If they would only get a job… trope that so many conservatives use to explain the poverty of Communities of Color.

There is also a large amount of narcissism present in conservatives. Inherent in conservative thought is the ability to only perceive their own needs. They lack the theory of mind to imagine what it is like to be anyone other than them.

Abortion and Sadism

Sadism is enjoying the discomfort of others. So many of the social policies that conservatives pursue seem designed to inflict pain upon people who defy conventional morality and violate conventional thinking. How else do you explain the professed belief that abortion is wrong, but then in the same breath denying women access to birth control?

We could discuss the inherent cruelty in declining to make the child tax credit permanent, supporting any kind of welfare system, declining Medicaid expansion, opposing national healthcare, and so many other policies, but abortion really exemplifies the Machiavellianism of conservatives.

They are being dishonest. Their goal is not to reduce the number of abortions. Their goal is to control women’s sexuality by increasing the likelihood that pregnancy will result from having sex and that women are forced to give birth to the child thus making it more likely that she and the child will live in poverty.

Obviously, conservatives are willing to use deception and manipulation to get to their goal of some kind of Puritan dystopia.

Psychopathy and Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the situation and perspective of another person. We are able to project ourselves into another’s situation and have a deeper understanding of what they are experiencing. It was an epiphany when I realized just how frustrating and painful it would be to see my child discriminated against as Black parents so frequently do. The powerlessness of stopping racist abuse of you child left me in shock.

Once Ma Petite Fille was diagnosed as autistic and I saw how other kids treated her and how she struggled in social situations, I had a pretty good idea of how parents of color might feel about the treatment of their children.

Conservatives seem to lack any ability to empathize, though. They cannot imagine any reason for being poor other than a deep and abiding character flaw that makes each and every poor person deserving of the treatment they receive. They cannot imagine that there is any other cure than tough love, which circles around to that everyday sadism thing, again.

How Many Conservatives Are There?

The MSM tends to say that half of the country is voted for Trump and the GQP. That’s not quite right, is it? It is just under half of the number of people voting. We all know that not everyone votes even if more people voted in 2020 and 2016 than most other elections. So, just exactly how many people are we talking about with the dark tetrad cluster of personality traits tending towards the conservative end of the political spectrum.

The Greedy Defector

There was a game theory study that evaluated how many people would allocate enough resources to sustain the next generation. It found that its participants divided into two main categories: cooperators and greed defectors. Cooperators voluntarily left enough resources to allow the next generation to survive. Greedy defectors did not. Cooperators made up 66% of the participants, greedy defectors, 34%. The effect of the greedy defectors was enough to doom the next generation in every game played.

Greedy defectors seem to me the equivalent of dark tetrad personality traits. They are just too interested in their own needs and wants to be bothered about the next generation or anyone else for that matter.

If the participants in the study represent the entire population of the US, then a third of our population are greedy defectors. If we compare that percentage to the percentage of the population that voted for Trump, what will we get? Remember, Trump got just over 74 million votes and there are about 330 million people in the country. Counting on my fingers and toes reveals that 22% of the population voted for Trump. I figure that is about the percentage that are greedy defectors and have dark tetrad personality traits. Who else could’ve lived through four years of Trump and still vote for him, amirightoramiright?

My conclusion from considering all of this is that the GQP and MAGA are populated by people exhibiting the dark tetrad personality traits and they give zero fucks about anyone other than their own selves and our future. As long as they are satisfying their own immediate needs, the rest of us can be sacrificed.

The GQP has created a strange recursive Frankenstein’s monster, they justify their destructive actions and radical demands because their constituents demand it of them, but the only reason their constituents demand such destructive policies is because of the rhetoric and propaganda they are espousing. That’s the exact kind of Machiavellianism that you’d expect when psychopathic callousness and narcissistic self-indulgence and sadistic persecution are promoted. Unless the 66% can organize ourselves to out vote them in the 2022 elections, we’re good and truly fucked.

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you are afraid of the pernicous effect the dark tetrad personalities of conservatives will destroy us and the world.

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Image Attribution

“Fear of the Dark” by stuant63 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

7 replies »

  1. It just struck me that ambiguity intolerance goes a long way to explaining gerrymandering as not even about power, but about avoiding uncertainty, a simple deep need to know the outcome of an election before it happens and not experience the agony of election night uncertainty. Of course, to avoid the uncertainty, you have to get the power to draw the maps.

    Meanwhile, this morning (0700 here) Putin has begun the invasion and Trump and Trumpists cheer him on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      Ambiguity intolerance is a chief trait of the conservative-authoritarian personality. Of course, they would seek guarantees in the face of elections.

      Trump is the biggest cause of Putin’s invasion. Without Trump’s election, there would be no invasion. Because Trump has divided America, Putin thinks he can weather anything America and NATO will do in response.

      He may be right.


      Liked by 1 person

      • He may be right or wrong. One thing he has done is to expose a divide in the Republican Party between the Trumpists and the Neo-Con Cold Warriors who do still see Russia as an enemy. We’ll see how that plays out in the GOP primaries. One thing sure is that it is a split that’s hard for a candidate to straddle.

        Liked by 1 person

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