Lately, we’ve probably heard of the term dark psychology. This is a recently introduced psychological trend that can be used to refer to different undesirable or attractive personality traits. These traits are considered disturbing or dangerous to ourselves or to others.

At a common level, dark psychology is known as the art and science of manipulation and control, concerned with the psychological nature of people. who benefit from others. The term dark psychology is understood as the use of motivation, persuasion, manipulation and coercion tactics to obtain something.

But… is dark psychology real?

In reality, it is not a branch that exists. It is true that there are areas of psychology that investigate the behavior of criminals (such as criminal psychology) to determine the reasons. /strong> after his actions. This type of psychology also studies the types of criminals and their respective criminal behavior. For its part, we also find forensic psychology, which studies the mental processes and behaviors of someone, who will be presented at a trial. .

When mentioning dark psychology, it is very important to properly separate and explain these two concepts and specify that, even though a person fits into the behavioral patterns of dark psychology, , does not have to be or become a criminal. In the same way, a person with this behavior pattern that we are talking about does not have to be easily recognizable: anyone can be.

Tactics related to dark psychology

Some of the tactics that are commonly related to dark psychology, and that we can face daily, can be:

  • Love Flooding: use of affection to ask for something.
  • Lie: we can also include here the exaggeration of the truth or partial truths.
  • Denial of love: withholding affection with the aim of achieving something. It can also occur in the form ofabstinence, or what we can know as “making a vacuum”.
  • Choice restriction: offering choices to distract from the unwanted choice.
  • Reverse psychology: trying to convince a person with the intention of doing the opposite.
  • Semantic manipulation: use of words in a different way than the recipient perceives.

Who can use these tactics?

While it is true that there are people who know these tactics and use them to their advantage, there are others who can use them without being fully aware. /strong>.
Everyone could use the tools of this psychological current, but there are certain people who seem to use them more frequently:

  • Narcissists: they use them to maintain the adoration and praise of others for themselves.
  • Sociopaths: they use them tobuild a superficial relationship and take advantage of it.
  • Leaders: can use some or all of the tactics to achieve greater effort or performance from their followers.
  • Selfish people: They use these tactics to satisfy their own needs, even at the expense of other person(s).

Behavior pattern: the dark triad

The dark triad constitutes a personality behavior pattern based on traits typical of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.

This term refers to people with high scores on certain evaluation tests, indicating that they can cause discomfort and problems in the work environment. They are profiles characterized by lack of empathy, understanding, compassion, and which tend to be unpleasant in general. This trio, likewise, defines what we would generally call a “bad person”.

We must emphasize that the name “dark” does not indicate that they are negative traits, but perhaps they can express coldness or evil when expressing emotions, a certain touch of aggressiveness, or little honesty.

The study of the dark triad is mainly used in applied psychology, especially in law, clinical psychology and business management .

The traits of the dark triad

Despite being conceptually distinct, evidence supports that the three traits that make up the dark triad are closely related, and associated with >manipulation.


Narcissistic people tend to focus on themselves, fantasize about power, and need admiration. Narcissism can be a personality trait or a type of personality disorder. It is advisable not to mix both meanings, since there is a clear difference between both meanings. The narcissistic personality can tend to: overestimation of one’s own worth; excessive need for admiration; constant fantasies about power and success; need to be special; belief of an acquired right (believing that you deserve special treatment or that you are owed something); exploitation of others; lack of empathy; envy towards others, or the belief that one is envied; arrogant and arrogant attitude.


This is a very marked behavior, with a cynical attitude and strategy in order to serve their strong>own interests. Its meaning is associated with manipulation, cunning and deception. It is a personality trait that implies an absolute prioritization of one’s own interests , where the person does not hesitate to manipulate or exploit others to achieve their goals.


Based on the lack of empathy, it turns the person into someone disinterested in others, or rather, in their feelings. It is a type of mental disorder characterized by the alteration of the character or social behavior of a person. People who have this trait follow certain behavioral patterns: they appear distant and distant, with cruel behavior; Despite being able to distinguish what is morally correct, they don’t care; and show dishonest and manipulative behaviors. Furthermore, they are capable of interacting normally with their environment, but they cannot maintain a sincere and reliable emotional relationship. It is also important to emphasize that some people are born with genetic predisposition, and that it is linked to the environment in which the person develops.


Recently, the possible addition of sadistic people, who enjoy inflicting pain on others and excel at high levels of cruelty, has also been studied. >. Since several of the characteristics of sadism are similar to those of the triad, and at the same time, they have unique aspects, some psychologists consider that mustbe added and form a “dark tetrad”. On the other hand, other researchers believe that sadism cannot be reduced to other traits.

Dark psychology and psychopathy

In 1941, H. Cleckley edited the work The Mask of Sanity, considered the origin of the clinical study of psychopathy. Decades after that, in 1976, Cleckley proposed certain traits to define subclinical psychopathies. In fact, when mentioning dark psychology, these characteristics are generally mentioned. Today they are more relevant due to the acquired importance of psychology, for example, in academic or business processes.

Traits of psychopathy

  • Superficial charm, which can be attractive.
  • Remarkable intelligence.
  • Absence of irrational thoughts, hallucinations and nervousness.
  • Lack of sincerity and honesty.
  • Unjustified antisocial behavior.
  • Inability to feel shame and express remorse, or express intense emotions regarding other people, such as friendship and/or love. Unstable emotional relationships.
  • Difficulty learning from experiences and acquiring resilience.
  • Egocentrism and narcissism.
  • Loss of intuition and/or common sense.
  • Exaggerated behavior, such as threats of suicide.
  • Inability to make a life plan, or failing that, follow it.

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