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date: 21 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Dark Triad of personality (subclinical psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism) is associated with exploitative behavior. Although people with these traits may be perceived negatively, they often compete successfully for mates, resources, and power. Research on the Dark Triad highlights its utility for men and downplays the smaller, but still meaningful, samples of women with dark personalities. This chapter summarizes evidence about women’s antisocial behaviors and traits, and hypothesizes that we underestimate women’s ability to deceive and harm others. Women exploit others, and yet our expectations about women tend to be positive and women are generally viewed as nonthreatening. When women cause harm, it is often minimized, and women are held typically less responsible for their actions. Female criminals may have an advantage because their behavior is unexpected. This chapter outlines benefits for underestimated women and proposes additional research to clarify whether the Dark Triad is differentially adaptive for women.

Keywords: Dark Triad, Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, stereotypes, sex differences

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