The influence of childhood adversity, resiliency, and attachment on dark triad traits
Taylor, Emma K.
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Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) such as abuse and neglect have been closely linked to poor outcomes in adulthood. Research has identified that attachment styles and resilience can act as a protective mechanism against the negative effects of ACE’s (Simeon et al., 2007). However, these effects have not yet been studied with dark triad personality traits (psychopathy, narcissism, machiavellianism) as the outcome variable. Purpose: The present study sought to reveal the predictive relationship of ACE’s, resilience, and attachment on dark triad traits (DTT). Method: For the present study, 120 participants completed a set of online self-report questionnaires assessing ACEs, resilience, attachment style, and DTT. Results: Multiple linear regressions were conducted with DTTs as outcome variables. All models including DTT averages (p <.000), machiavellianism (p < .000), narcissism (p = .001), and psychopathy (p = .000) were significant. Age, sexual orientation, number of children, anxious and avoidant attachment variables significantly contributed to our model predictions. Limitations: Participants were mostly female (79.2%), heterosexual (79.2%), had no children (64.2%), and were of European descent (75%). Implications: These findings suggest that attachment style and other demographics may play a more important role in—and may be more appropriate targets for interventions related to—dark triad traits than the number of ACEs that one has experienced. Future studies with clinical samples, longitudinal study designs, and more advanced statistical analyses are needed. Practically, our findings may influence clinicians direction for treatment.