The dark triad personality traits are strongly correlated with anti-natalism, or the belief that human procreation is morally wrong, according to research published in the journal Philosophical Psychology.
The dark triad traits are a cluster of intertwined personality characteristics comprised of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Narcissism is characterized by the tendency to be overly concerned with one’s self-image, Machiavellianism is characterized by the tendency to be deceitful and manipulative, and psychopathy is characterized by callousness and lack of remorse.
“There has been some research indicating a relationship between the dark triad and sacrificial utilitarian decisions in moral dilemmas, and so I wanted to further the literature on the relationship between dark triad traits and potentially socially aversive moral judgements,” said study author Philipp Schoenegger, a PhD student at the University of St Andrews.
In the study, 194 participants (aged 21–73 years) completed assessments of dark triad traits, depression, and risk aversion. The participants were then presented with four arguments in favor of anti-natalism and asked to rate their level of agreement or disagreement with each statement. For example, one argument stated: “Humans cause so much harm — to other humans, non-human animals, and the environment — that it is wrong to procreate.”
Schoenegger found that participants who scored higher measures of depression and dark triad traits (especially Machiavellianism and psychopathy) were more likely to endorse the anti-natalist views. Risk aversion, however, was unrelated to anti-natalist views.
Schoenegger wrote in his study that “the results here suggest that those scoring high on Machiavellianism and psychopathy as well as depression (which mediates the main relationship), are more likely to feel negatively about life, common moral standards, and others more generally. That is, one is more likely to agree with the anti-natalist arguments that procreation is a moral wrong because of one’s own propensity to disvalue life, be it present or future.”
However, the researcher noted that the findings should be considered preliminary.
“One major caveat from this study is that it focused on a lay population only,” he explained. “A second is that this study did not use a validated scale to measure anti-natalist views (as it was one of the first studies of its kind). Both of these flaws are corrected for and addressed in a new study that is currently under blind peer review, in which we introduce a reliable and validated scale of anti-natalist views.”
“I think it’s always important not to overgeneralize from single studies; as such I tend to see this study as the first in a row of studies that will investigate this phenomenon in more detail and with increasing rigor,” Schoenegger added.
The study, “What’s up with anti-natalists? An observational study on the relationship between dark triad personality traits and anti-natalist views“, was published July 1, 2021.