During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people had different opinions on whether they should follow safety rules. But what traits made some people more likely to reject these rules? A study published in Psicothema suggests that being psychopathic and impulsive had a bigger impact on not following the rules compared to intelligence.
When the COVID-19 virus started spreading rapidly and posed a danger, governments tried to control it by implementing safety measures like wearing masks, washing hands, and imposing lockdowns and curfews. However, some people didn’t follow these rules and felt their freedom was being restricted. Understanding what factors influence people’s compliance or non-compliance with safety measures can be crucial if we face a similar situation in the future.
Various factors, including gender, age, and personality traits, have been linked to not following the rules. This study aims to expand our knowledge by exploring the relationship between dark triad personality traits, intelligence, and resistance to safety measures.
The researchers, Fabia Morales-Vives and colleagues, conducted their study using a sample of 786 participants aged 15 to 75 from Spain. The majority of the participants were female and single. About half of them were students, and most had not received any doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The participants completed assessments of their compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures, their cognitive abilities, impulsivity, and dark triad personality traits.
The results showed that psychopathy and dysfunctional impulsivity were the two traits most strongly associated with not following safety regulations. Machiavellianism, narcissism, and intelligence were also related to non-compliance with COVID-19 rules, although intelligence had the weakest relationship. This study suggests that the combination of dark triad traits and intelligence can influence adherence to safety measures.
Interestingly, intelligence seemed to influence compliance indirectly through its relationship with negative personality traits. People who have high levels of dark triad traits but are also intelligent are more likely to follow COVID-19 regulations compared to those who have high levels of dark triad traits but low intelligence. These findings can also be relevant for promoting compliance in other health situations.
This study contributes to our understanding of the factors influencing compliance during a public health crisis. However, it’s important to note some limitations. The measurement of the dark triad traits was brief, and future research could use more comprehensive surveys to gain a better understanding of these relationships. Additionally, other important factors related to compliance, such as trust in science, belief in conspiracy theories, and trust in the government, were not measured in this study.
“To sum up, the present study clearly shows the role that intelligence, impulsivity and the dark triad play in predicting compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures,” the researchers concluded. “However, since we have used a brief questionnaire to assess the dark triad, it would be interesting to know whether stronger results could be obtained with longer and more complete measures of these constructs.”
“Future studies may provide a deeper understanding of this relationship, and give greater insight into the facets that play the most important roles in predicting adherence to preventive measures.”
The study, “Compliance with COVID-19 Preventive Measures: The Role of Intelligence, the Dark Triad and Dysfunctional Impulsivity“, was authored by Fabia Morales-Vives, Pere J. Ferrando, Andreu Vigil-Colet, and Jorge-Manuel Dueñas.