Dark Triad of Personality at Work
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Dark Triad of Personality at Work


by Dominik Schwarzinger, Heinz Schuler

Dark Triad of Personality at Work

Area of use

The TOP offers insights that can be useful in any selection process, and often as part of development, particularly in leadership positions.

Language Versions

US English, German, UK English (Finnish, French, Italian, Spanish, Danish in progress)

Product Description

The Dark Triad of Personality (TOP) measures work-related components of the dark triad of personality (which is composed of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and subclinical psychopathy). It is important to acknowledge that TOP does not measure the whole of the dark triad traits, but only the parts that are relevant to work. This makes the TOP appropriate for use in organizations, as it can offer insights that are useful in any selection process, and often as part of a development plan in leadership positions.

The TOP focuses on the “dark side” of work behaviours, as these traits are shown in research to be very effective predictors of job performance. While it critical to be able to pinpoint an employee's “bright side”, knowing the potential derailers that can impact performance and lead to serious financial and personal implications for employees and the organization is also essential. Rather than assessing these derailers over a wide range, the TOP focuses in on the three that make the biggest difference to individual performance and organisational impact.

Because the TOP measures only the work-related aspects of the original dark triad, it is appropriate to refer to them as the following:

Self-centred work approach (narcissism)

  • Claim to leadership
  • Belief in persuasive power
  • Need for authority
  • Appetite for risk
  • Sense of superiority
  • Enforcement-focused work attitude

Unsentimentality (Machiavellianism)

  • Assertiveness
  • Scepticism
  • Uncommitted-impulsive style

Uncommitted-impulsive style (subclinical psychopathy)

  • Flexibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Extenuation

Online access to the TOP on our HTS 5 platform is via a subscription model, where users pay an annual fee for periodic maintenance and upgrades to new features. This fee is being waived during the pandemic for 2020, as Hogrefe invites you use HTS 5 for your assessment needs. An online manual is also available at no charge during this time.

When you order test materials for the first time we request that you provide documentation indicating you have the requisite qualifications or experience to administer psychological tests. Please download and complete the Qualification for Test Purchase.


Reliability (Cronbach`s alpha) for the combined sample in the US and UK (N=2,001) had values between .79 and .96, which demonstrates their good to excellent internal consistency. The three triad factors show excellent retest reliability; for an interval of one month estimates ranged from .84 to .93.

Test Validity

The model tested using CFA (confirmatory factor analysis) demonstrated a satisfactory fit to the data for the TOP scales and results strongly support the theoretical structure of TOP at both the item- and scale-level, demonstrating evidence of its internal validity. Convergent validity was measured against the Short Dark Triad (SD3) and the Hogan Development Survey (HDS) and results are reported in the manual, along with correlations against a Big Five personality inventory.


US working population (N = 1,000); Combined US/UK Managerial norm (N=435).

Processing Time

The TOP is untimed, and typically takes 15-20 minutes to complete.

Copyright year


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