3 years ago

The Dark Triad in male and female athletes and non-athletes: Group differences and psychometric properties of the Short Dark Triad (SD3)

Robert Vaughan, Daniel J. Madigan, Gregory L. Carter, Adam R. Nicholls

Publication date: Available online 8 January 2019

Source: Psychology of Sport and Exercise

Author(s): Robert Vaughan, Daniel J. Madigan, Gregory L. Carter, Adam R. Nicholls


The Short Dark Triad (SD3) is a popular, brief measure of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, which are known as the Dark Triad. The present study adopted this measure and had two aims. First, to assess the psychometric properties of the SD3 with a focus on measurement invariance across gender, athletic expertise, and sport type. Second, to examine mean differences in Dark Triad scores across these groups.




In total, 1258 participants (625 women; mean age 23.47 years) with a range of athletic experience (non-athletes, N = 408; amateur, N = 557; elite, N = 293) from team (N = 577) and individual (N = 273) sports completed the SD3. Factorial validity was assessed using exploratory structural equation modelling.


Analyses indicated that the three-factor model provided adequate fit, however, a bifactor model incorporating the three specific factors and a general factor, provided superior fit to the data. Moreover, invariance testing suggested some inconsistency in the observed factor structures across groups. In addition, findings indicated group differences with men scoring higher than women, athletes with greater expertise scoring higher than those with less expertise, and individual athletes scoring higher than team athletes across all factors.


We suggest that researchers continue to use the SD3 using both composite and subscale scores, but recommend caution when interpreting subscale scores among women and team athletes until further psychometric work has been conducted within these populations. Our findings also suggest that the Dark Triad may be worth examining in future studies in sport.

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.