The Dark Triad


Why do bad boys always get the girl? To put it another way, why do women find it so hard to resist ruthless, deceitful narcissists? Look no further than James Bond, whose character is composed of three distinctly nasty traits: the dark triad, as this particular psychosis is referred to in psychological literature. James Bond is ruthless, he’s fearless, he’s extremely focused, and he’s mentally tough. He’s, of course, absolutely without conscience and remorse. He’s also one of the biggest philanders that’s ever worked for the British Secret Service.

While James Bond is a fictional character, he also makes for an exemplary psychological case study. The question psychologists ask in this case is what are the various personality traits and behaviors that enable those with the Bond psyche to enter into relationships with others and exploit them?

Men with a specific triumvirate of personality traits — the stratospheric self esteem of narcissism; the fearlessness, ruthlessness, impulsivity, and thrill-seeking of psychopathy; and the deceitfulness and exploitativeness of Machiavellianism can actually do pretty well for themselves out there in the echelons of society. High levels of openness, self-esteem and extraversion, combined with low levels of conscientiousness and anxiety enable James Bond types to persist in the face of potential social rejection and retaliation. Bondian psychopaths are more likely to have a greater number of sexual partners and a stronger inclination toward casual, short-term relationships than men who are low on such traits. This turns out to be evolutionarily advantageous because it expedites a dual-process alpha-male mating strategy aimed at maximizing reproductive strategy that consists of impregnate as many females as possible and hit the road before anyone calls you daddy.

James Bond craves novelty: a new Bond girl to seduce, a new villain to kill. The desire for novelty works both ways. This is exactly the kind of personality type that sets female pulses racing. If you’re looking for relationship advice here, it goes like this: date James Bond, marry Mr. Right. While James Bond may not be the man to settle down with, he has a lot to offer society. That is to say, if he exhibits non-psychotic levels of dark triad traits, a James Bond type can be a functioning psychopath.

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. It is not a coincidence that Churchill was fond of this saying. Great leaders have a lot in common with psychopaths, in that they are not afraid of making unpopular decisions. Many professions are also strongly associated with psychopathy. Surgeons, for instance, need to do the dirty work of cutting up bodies with calm, emotional detachment. Another example is the Special Forces. In Special Forces, you can’t afford to dwell on the fact that you’ve pulled the trigger and killed someone. If you do, then the next bullet could be going through your head. So you have to be very emotionally detached in kind of professions like that.

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