//Should be placed in the header of every page. This won't fire any events

New theory of dark personality reveals the 9 traits of the evil people in your life

A new study proposes that a 'D-factor' can measure just how evil people are.

Do evil people exist? While the answer to this may depend on your religious background and what you understand “evil” to be, scientists have figured out that people have a “dark core” to their personality. What’s more, a General Dark Factor of Personality (D-factor) exists that can tell the extent of a person’s dark traits, which cause questionable ethical, moral and social behavior.


What is the D-factor?

The research team from Germany and Denmark defined the D-factor as “the basic tendency to maximize one's own utility at the expense of others, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications for one's malevolent behaviors.” 

Those who get high scores on such a rubric look to achieve their goals at all costs, even if they harm others in the process. Their goals might also be, specifically, to harm others. The team also predicts that such people would not want to help others in need if it doesn’t benefit them and will derive no “utility” in the success of others. They won’t really be happy if something good happens to anyone but them.

The psychologists established that the D-factor observed in the human population not only serves as a unifying theme among the dark traits, it also works with the principle of “indifference of indicator”. This term is typically used in the context of the 'general factor of intelligence' (g-factor), whereby scoring highly on one intelligence test usually means you'll score higher on other intelligence tests. Intelligence types are related, and no matter what tests you administer to gauge it, the g-factor will still be there—its existence is independent of the tests used to measure it. The same goes for the 9 malevolent traits in the D-factor. The researchers discovered that people who score highly on a single dark trait tend to also score highly on several other dark traits, suggesting that there is a common core of darkness: dark traits are related.

How the study was carried out

The scientists who worked on the study included Morten Moshagen from Ulm University, along with Benjamin E. Hilbig from the University of Koblenz-Landau and Ingo Zettler from the University of Copenhagen.  

They proposed that it is possible to measure malevolence similarly to how we measure intelligence. The pioneering psychologist Charles Spearman’s work on human intelligence showed that a general factor of intelligence exists (the g-factor) because people who get a high score on one intelligence test tend to get high scores on other intelligence tests. It also doesn’t matter what specific intelligence test you give—as long as it’s complex enough, it can reliably measure someone’s general cognitive abilities. The D-factor works in a likewise fashion. 

Scott Barry Kaufman explains this best in Scientific American: "... the g-factor analogy is apt: while there are some differences between verbal intelligence, visuospatial intelligence, and perceptual intelligence (i.e people can differ in their pattern of cognitive ability profiles), those who score high on one form of intelligence will also tend to statistically score high on other forms of intelligence."

The scientists identified the D-factor by administering nine different tests across four studies. The tests focused on the dark traits that were previously researched in the psychological literature. Research into the dark traits is not only significant in psychology but in criminology and behavioral economics, reports Scientific American.

The 9 traits of malevolence

These are the 9 traits comprising the D-factor, along with the definitions used by the scientists:

1. Egoism: “the excessive concern with one’s own pleasure or advantage at the expense of community well-being.” 

2. Machiavellianism: “manipulativeness, callous affect, and a strategic-calculating orientation.” 

3. Moral disengagement: “a generalized cognitive orientation to the world that differentiates individuals’ thinking in a way that powerfully affects unethical behavior.” 

4. Narcissism: “ego-reinforcement is the all-consuming motive.” 

5. Psychological entitlement: “a stable and pervasive sense that one deserves more and is entitled to more than others.”

6. Psychopathy: “deficits in affect (i.e., callousness) and self-control (i.e., impulsivity).” 

7. Sadism: “a person who humiliates others, shows a longstanding pattern of cruel or demeaning behavior to others, or intentionally inflicts physical, sexual, or psychological pain or suffering on others in order to assert power and dominance or for pleasure and enjoyment.”

8. Self-interest: “the pursuit of gains in socially valued domains, including material goods, social status, recognition, academic or occupational achievement, and happiness.” 

9. Spitefulness: “a preference that would harm another but that would also entail harm to oneself. This harm could be social, financial, physical, or an inconvenience.” 

How dark is your personality?

If you’d like to test yourself to see how malevolent you might be, the psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman devised a short version of the D-factor test in his article for Scientific American. The more you are in agreement with multiple items on this list, the higher your D-factor score is likely to be:

The Dark Core Scale

1. It is hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there.

2. I like to use clever manipulation to get my way.

3. People who get mistreated have usually done something to bring it on themselves.

4. I know that I am special because everyone keeps telling me so.

5. I honestly feel I'm just more deserving than others.

6. I'll say anything to get what I want.

7. Hurting people would be exciting.

8. I try to make sure others know about my successes.

9. It is sometimes worth a little suffering on my part to see others receive the punishment they deserve. 

To learn more, check out the new paper here. More information about the dark factor can also be found on the site established by the psychologists.

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Why it’s hard to tell when high-class people are incompetent

A recent study gives new meaning to the saying "fake it 'til you make it."

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • The study involves four experiments that measured individuals' socioeconomic status, overconfidence and actual performance.
  • Results consistently showed that high-class people tend to overestimate their abilities.
  • However, this overconfidence was misinterpreted as genuine competence in one study, suggesting overestimating your abilities can have social advantages.
Keep reading Show less

Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
Keep reading Show less

Mother bonobos, too, pressure their sons to have grandchildren

If you thought your mother was pushy in her pursuit of grandchildren, wait until you learn about bonobo mothers.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Mother bonobos have been observed to help their sons find and copulate with mates.
  • The mothers accomplish this by leading sons to mates, interfering with other males trying to copulate with females, and helping sons rise in the social hierarchy of the group.
  • Why do mother bonobos do this? The "grandmother hypothesis" might hold part of the answer.
Keep reading Show less
//This will actually fire event. Should be called after consent was verifed