An unjustified bad reputation? The Dark Triad and support for populism

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While research concludes that populist leaders stand out for their “dark” personalities, studies on the psychological underpinnings of citizens’ populist attitudes are scant and inconclusive, with some agreement on the association between disagreeableness and populist attitudes. By bringing the Dark Triad personality traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism into the picture, we aim to answer whether populist citizens -like populist leaders-score higher in this dark traits, and whether the addition of the Dark Triad helps to better understanding the populist personality. Using an online Spanish sample, our analyses find that using the Dark Triad does indeed add to our understanding of populist attitudes. In opposition to widespread intuitions about the character of populists, we find that psychopathy and Machiavellianism are negatively associated with support for populism, with only narcissism being positively related to the people-centric dimension of populist attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalElectoral Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Dark Triad
  • Personality
  • Populism
  • Populist attitudes


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