The End Justifies the Me: Self-Interest Moderates the Relationship Between Dark Triad Traits and Utilitarian Moral Decisions
Personality and Individual Differences
We examined the relationship between Dark Triad (DT) traits—specifically, Machiavellianism and subclinical psychopathy—and utilitarian moral decisions (i.e., promoting the greater good). Although previous studies have found relationships between DT traits and utilitarianism, past research may have confounded whether or not utilitarian choice options were self-interested. In light of the DT's association with selfish motivations, we hypothesized that whether a utilitarian choice option was self-interested would moderate the relationship between DT traits and ostensible utilitarianism. In an online experiment (N = 155), we manipulated the self-interest of utilitarian choice options in moral dilemmas. Consistent with hypotheses, Machiavellianism predicted more utilitarian choices and greater endorsement of those choices, but only for dilemmas in which utilitarianism was self-interested. These findings are consistent with past research, but also extend previous findings on utilitarian moral judgment.
Zamora J, Ungson ND, Seidman G. The End Justifies the Me: Self-Interest Moderates the Relationship Between Dark Triad Traits and Utilitarian Moral Decisions. Personality and Individual Differences. 2022; 184. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2021.111134.