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Examining Dark Triad traits in relation to mental toughness and physical activity in young adults

Authors Sabouri S, Gerber M, Sadeghi Bahmani D, Lemola S, Clough PJ, Kalak N, Shamsi M, Holsboer-Trachsler E, Brand S

Received 28 September 2015

Accepted for publication 10 December 2015

Published 27 January 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 229—235

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S97267

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Xiang Mou

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Sarah Sabouri,1 Markus Gerber,2 Dena Sadeghi Bahmani,3 Sakari Lemola,4 Peter J Clough,5 Nadeem Kalak,3 Mahin Shamsi,1 Edith Holsboer-Trachsler,3 Serge Brand2,3

1Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, AllamehTabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran; 2Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, Sport Science Section, University of Basel, 3Center for Affective, Stress and Sleep Disorders, Psychiatric Clinics of the University of Basel, 4Faculty of Psychology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland; 5Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

Objective: The Dark Triad (DT) describes a set of three closely related personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. Mental toughness (MT) refers to a psychological construct combining confidence, commitment, control, and challenge. High MT is related to greater physical activity (PA) and, relative to men, women have lower MT scores. The aims of the present study were 1) to investigate the association between DT, MT, and PA, and 2) to compare the DT, MT, and PA scores of men and women.
Methods: A total of 341 adults (M=29 years; 51.6% women; range: 18–37 years) took part in the study. Participants completed a series of questionnaires assessing DT, MT, and PA.
Results: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy were all significantly associated with higher MT scores (rs =0.45, 0.50, and 0.20, respectively). DT traits and MT were associated with more vigorous PA. Compared to men, women participants had lower scores for DT traits (overall score and psychopathy), while no differences were found for MT or PA in both sexes.
Conclusion: DT traits, high MT, and vigorous PA are interrelated. This pattern of results might explain why, for instance, successful professional athletes can at the same time be tough and ruthless.

Keywords: dark triad, mental toughness, physical activity, young adults, sex

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