Arthur C. Brooks, whose writing I always enjoy, writes on sociopaths, narcissists, and ‘Dark Triad’ personalities. These Dark Triads are characterised by narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. They’re manipulative and harmful, and making up about 7% of the population — although interestingly significantly more of the male prison population.

Brooks talks about how to spot and avoid them in the workplace and on social media, and how to gravitate towards ‘Light Triad’ personalities instead. These embody positive traits like faith in humanity and humanism, and represent a more uplifting aspect of human nature. Thankfully, Light Triads are more common in the general population.

DALL-E 3 created image showing light and dark
As far as the workplace is concerned, scholars have found that narcissists tend toward artistic, creative, and social careers; researchers also saw that Machiavellians, in particular, avoid careers that involve caring for others. Look out for Dark Triads, in other words, in professions that involve human contact, performance, and applause, but little concerned attention to other people. An obvious example might be politics; another would be show business. But the type can manifest in many careers and professions. At work, such individuals tend to exaggerate their own worth, show a distrustful attitude toward colleagues, act impulsively and irresponsibly, break rules, and lie.


The traits to look for are self-importance, a sense of entitlement, vanity, a victim mentality, a tendency to bend the truth or even openly lie, manipulativeness, grandiosity, a lack of remorse, and an absence of empathy. Probe for these characteristics particularly when on first dates and in job interviews. You might even want to take that test imaginatively on behalf of someone you suspect may have Triad traits and see what result you get.

Source: The Sociopaths Among Us—And How to Avoid Them | The Atlantic

Image: DALL-E 3