Do you have the D factor?

Do you have the D factor - image for article by Greg Alder

Before you answer the question, you’ll likely want to know what it is.

First up, I can tell you that the D factor isn’t as sexy as the X factor (although sex is sometimes involved).

Second, the D factor can get you everything you want in life. Money? Power? Self-satisfaction? Warm tingling sensations? Yep, all of these come to people with the D factor.

Third, if you have the D factor, you have it for life. If you have it, isn’t a freak, a one-off incidence, but a personality characteristic that will influence your behaviour in everything that requires you to make a decision.

This is where it gets interesting. If your decisions affect only you then you can’t really have the D factor. You have some of its characteristics, but not all of them.

To really have the D factor – and to use it to its greatest affect – you need to be making decisions that influence others. People in power (presidents, CEOs, parking attendants) are often great examples of the D factor.

OK, so what is it, how do you know if you have it and how do you know if your boss has it?

In a fascinating article in the latest issue of Scientific American Mind, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman reports on research that suggests there’s a D factor that rules behaviour.

German and Danish researchers have identified what they call a general dark factor of personality (D factor for short). They have found that people with the D factor display malevolence in pretty much everything they do. Yep, the D factor isn’t good.

So, what are the indicators?

The D factor is made up of 9 traits. People with the D factor usually score highly in each of these traits.

  • Egoism
  • Machiavellianism
  • Moral disengagement
  • Narcissism
  • Psychological entitlement
  • Psychopathy
  • Sadism
  • Self-interest
  • Spitefulness

Is there a dark side to your boss’s or your partner’s personality? Not sure? Have they ever done something that advanced their own cause at the expense of others? Think about it.

What about you? Could you possess the D factor? Are you honest enough and brave enough to assess your own dark self? If you are, the researchers have created three online questionnaires which you can answer at

If you just want a glimpse into your dark self, take the 30-question survey. If you really  want a thorough understanding of your D factor score, do the 90-question survey, which also includes an assessment of your humility and honesty.

Be prepared to have your worst fears confirmed.

Photo by Mathieu Stern via Unsplash

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