Academics at higher education institutions may, intentionally or not, withhold knowledge from other academics. This knowledge hiding behavior (KHB) can be undesirable, especially for an institution rooted in the creation and dissemination of knowledge. New research published in Heliyon found that “dark” personality traits are positively related to psychological entitlement and knowledge hiding behavior.
It is possible that academics who possess dark triad personality traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy), which are typically associated with emotional coldness or interpersonal manipulation, may be especially likely to withhold knowledge from their peers. Academics with these dark triad traits may have stronger senses of entitlement to the knowledge they possess, which may also contribute to knowledge hiding.
Study author Dewan Niamul Karim hypothesized that all three dark triad traits would be positively associated with knowledge hiding behavior and that psychological entitlement would explain these relationships. Participants consisted of 219 full-time faculty members working at 5 different public universities in Bangladesh and participation took place via online survey. Participants completed measures assessing dark triad traits, psychological entitlement, and knowledge hiding behavior.
As hypothesized, results show that all three dark triad traits were positively associated with knowledge hiding behavior. In other words, the stronger people were on the dark triad traits the more they reported engaging in knowledge hiding behavior.
Follow-up analysis also supported the hypothesis that a sense of psychological entitlement explains the relationship between the dark triad traits and knowledge hiding. Put another way, it is because of an increased sense of entitlement that people high on dark triad traits engage in knowledge hiding.
“The findings of the study are in line with the previous studies that discovered relationship of dark personalities with KHB. The exploitive, amoral, and aggressive nature of Machiavellians, the tendency of violating social norms, impulsivity, and lack of guilt-feeling of psychopaths, and the excessive sense of superiority and lack of empathy of narcissists stimulate them to engage in counterproductive behaviors and deter them from revealing relevant knowledge at the workplace,” concluded Karim.
The author mentions some limitations to this work including the use of a convenience sample and the correlational nature of this data. In other words, we cannot say from these data that personality traits are causing changes in psychological entitlement and KHB, or if these variables shape personality traits over time.
The study, “Linking dark triad traits, psychological entitlement, and knowledge hiding behavior“, was published June 29, 2022.