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      The dark side of internet: Preliminary evidence for the associations of dark personality traits with specific online activities and problematic internet use

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          Background and aims

          Research has shown that personality traits play an important role in problematic internet use (PIU). However, the relationship between dark personality traits (i.e., Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, sadism, and spitefulness) and PIU has yet to be investigated. Consequently, the objectives of this study were to investigate the relationships of dark traits with specific online activities (i.e., social media, gaming, gambling, shopping, and sex) and PIU.


          A total of 772 university students completed a self-report survey, including the Dark Triad Dirty Dozen Scale, Short Sadistic Impulse Scale, Spitefulness Scale, and an adapted version of the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.


          Hierarchical regression analysis and a multiple mediation model indicated that being male was positively associated with higher online gaming, online sex, and online gambling, and negatively associated with social media and online shopping. Narcissism was related to higher social media use; Machiavellianism was related to higher online gaming, online sex, and online gambling; sadism was related to online sex; and spitefulness was associated with online sex, online gambling, and online shopping. Finally, Machiavellianism and spitefulness were directly and indirectly associated with PIU via online gambling, online gaming, and online shopping, and narcissism was indirectly associated with PIU through social media use.


          Findings of this preliminary study show that individuals high in dark personality traits may be more vulnerable in developing problematic online use and that further research is warranted to examine the associations of dark personality traits with specific types of problematic online activities.

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          Most cited references 70

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          The Dark Triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy

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            A ‘components’ model of addiction within a biopsychosocial framework

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              The dirty dozen: a concise measure of the dark triad.

              There has been an exponential increase of interest in the dark side of human nature during the last decade. To better understand this dark side, the authors developed and validated a concise, 12-item measure of the Dark Triad: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism. In 4 studies involving 1,085 participants, they examined its structural reliability, convergent and discriminant validity (Studies 1, 2, and 4), and test-retest reliability (Study 3). Their measure retained the flexibility needed to measure these 3 independent-yet-related constructs while improving its efficiency by reducing its item count by 87% (from 91 to 12 items). The measure retained its core of disagreeableness, short-term mating, and aggressiveness. They call this measure the Dirty Dozen, but it cleanly measures the Dark Triad.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                J Behav Addict
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                14 November 2018
                December 2018
                : 7
                : 4
                : 993-1003
                [ 1 ]Faculty of Education, Department of Computer and Instructional Technologies, Duzce University , Duzce, Turkey
                [ 2 ]International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University , Nottingham, UK
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Kagan Kircaburun; Faculty of Education, Department of Computer and Instructional Technologies, Duzce University, Konuralp Campus, Duzce 81620, Turkey; Phone: +90 0380 542 1355; Fax: +90 0380 542 1366; E-mail: kircaburunkagan@
                © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 81, Pages: 11
                Funding sources: No financial support was received for this study.
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