Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





aggression, Dark Triad, Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, self-esteem


Calvin M. Langton




The relationship between self-esteem and the Dark Triad traits has not been subject to extensive, systematic empirical investigation. In particular, there is a dearth of research on the role of self-esteem, the Dark Triad traits, and aggression. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the associations between both explicit and implicit measures of self-esteem and aggression, and to examine these associations as they relate to the Dark Triad traits. Additionally, the present study set out to examine the test-retest reliability of the widely used Implicit Association Test (IAT) paradigm, as well as the effects of mood primers on the results of the IAT. The results showed that a) narcissism was negatively correlated with explicit self-esteem and none of the Dark Triad traits were associated with implicit self-esteem; b) individuals with discrepant high self-esteem did not score higher on trait aggression than other types of self-esteem; c) explicit self-esteem moderated the association between each of the Dark Triad traits and explicit aggression; and d) implicit self-esteem only moderated the association between narcissism and implicit aggression. Due to the pandemic-related cessation of data collection, we were unable to adequately test the test-retest reliability of the IAT paradigm or its susceptibility to priming effects. Overall, self-esteem appears to play a role in the relationship between Dark Triad traits and aggression, and as such, offers a multitude of implications for future research and the current theoretical understanding of aggressive behaviour. Furthermore, gender seems to be an important consideration for the study of the Dark Triad traits, as well as pathways to delinquency.