The SD3 scale is a self-report assessment developed by Daniel Jones and Delroy Paulus (2011) for the measurement of three closely related yet independent personality traits known as the Dark Triad. While these three traits are based on the definitions of Machiavellianism (highly manipulative), psychopathy (lack of empathy), and narcissism (excessive self-regard) as found in the DSM, it is not a diagnostic tool. Instead, it measures subclinical or borderline expressions of these three traits.
People who score very high on the SD3 may not necessarily meet all criteria for a diagnosis of being Machiavellian, psychopathic, or narcissistic. Clinicians need to stay cognisant of the fact that psychopathy and narcissism are technically accepted to be distinct clinical constructs while Machiavellianism is suggested to be an extension of psychopathy as a construct.
These three traits share one common personality trait namely, Antagonism (low Sociability (agreeableness) on the five factor model as measured by the Townsend Personality Questionnaire – the glue that brings them together as a construct. The SD3 report was developed by Dr Gary C. Townsend of Skillworx Africa (Pty) Ltd.
Why measure Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism
The dark triad personality traits are three closely related, yet independent, personality traits that have a somewhat malevolent connotation. The Psychopathy trait is typically characterised by a lack of empathy or remorse and is typically referred to as the “darkest” of the Dark Triad. This because psychopaths generally cause more harm to individuals and society. Importantly, psychopathy is not a mental diagnosis. The disorder that most closely represents it in the DSM is antisocial personality disorder.
Machiavellianism in turn is also not a mental health diagnosis. Rather, it is a personality trait describing the propensity of someone to manipulate and deceive others to achieve their own selfish goals. Some researchers believe that this trait is also tied to high intelligence. This element of the Dark Triad is often evident in the workplace – specifically in management and leadership roles.
Lastly, narcissism is characterised by a never-ending quest for ego-reinforcement and expressions of grandiosity. These levels of excessive self-regard and arrogance can, at malignant levels, translate into emotionally abusive or even violent behaviour when they are not indulged in a way they expect.
The Short Dark Triad consists of 27 items which are divided into 3 Scales of 9 items measuring, Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy.
MACHIAVELLIANISM: the propensity to manipulate and deceive others to achieve ones own selfish goals.
NARCISSM: the never-ending proclivity for ego-reinforcement and expression of grandiosity by certain individuals
PSYCHOPATHY: the lack of empathy or remorse
Benefits for the individual
The insights gained from the SD3 assessment provide an objective idea of the presence or absence of Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy. High scores on the SD3 are not diagnostic in nature but does indicate a propensity for each of these three closely related, yet independent, personality traits. This will assist the clinician with supplementary information to further explore the results through a formal clinical interview. Similarly, low scores on the SD3 should not be seen as a substitute for not pursuing a comprehensive clinical interview should there be other corroborating information suggesting so.
SD3 Personal Report
© Skillworx Africa (Pty) Ltd. All Rights Reserved