Swedish Analysis: Dark Triad Personality and Denying the Dangers of Covid-19

My Swedish morning paper has an interesting article that ties in with recent pieces in the New York Times and other US media.

The so-called “Dark Triad” of personality traits was described by Paulhus and Williams in 2002 – narcissism, psychopathy and machiavellianism. They are strongly linked to lack of empathy. This triad, according to Svenska Dagbladet, helps explain the animosity and violence expressed and perpetrated by Covid-deniers in the United States, who value their freedom not to wear masks more than the health of their fellow human beings.

The Swedish article writes about this 18 year old concept:

“But since the world was paralyzed by covid-19 this spring, the dark triad has become relevant again. A number of researchers have studied how our dark features are linked to how we acted during the pandemic. A few, albeit relatively small, studies indicate that people with strong dark features to a greater extent ignore obeying instructions during the pandemic.”

Media here are full of accounts of the violence the non-believers are capable of inflicting on those who are trying to protect their own health and others, too. This is perpetrated under the guise of protecting their own individual freedom, denying everyone else the freedom to avoid exposure to illness and death. I personally find this divisiveness in our society frightening and disheartening.

In just two examples from today’s news, an 80-year-old man was killed at a bar for asking another patron to wear a mask and the president is urging his supporters to ignore the risk of dying from Covid-19.

NYT has a piece about cognitive dissonance and the virtual bubbles Americans live in when it comes to where we get our news (Fox versus the older TV networks, for example), describing how our brains “will go to baroque lengths — do magic tricks, even — to preserve the integrity of our worldview, even when the facts inconveniently club us over the head with a two-by-four”.

We live in a divided country regarding race, climate, and so many other things. Not that I actually imagined living in a time of a worldwide pandemic of this magnitude, but I would have thought if anything could have united us, that would have been it.

I was wrong.

2 Responses to “Swedish Analysis: Dark Triad Personality and Denying the Dangers of Covid-19”


  1. 1 lcorbu October 7, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Superb. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 2 Mary E Flowers October 7, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    It’s helpful to read the analysis from another country.


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