Supervisor: D. P. H. Barelds
The dark triad (DT) traits—psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism—have been associated with counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in previous research. In addition, recent accounts have highlighted the role of workplace factors that interact with the DT to shape work behavior. As a result, the contextual boundaries of the relationship between the DT and CWB warrants closer scrutiny. DT traits coincide with an inherent desire for status and power, a proclivity that has been associated with unethical work behavior in the past. In this study, we expected this desire for power to be expressed as competitiveness in the workplace, which would mediate the relationship between the DT and CWB. In addition, our model hypothesized that competitiveness would interact with perceptions of fairness of status allocation to predict CWB. Using the Trait Activation theory, we hypothesized that perceived unfairness would strengthen the relationship between competitiveness and CWB when low, and buffer it when high. Using a sample of 171 employed men, we found that the DT was moderately associated with competitiveness and CWB. However, the data did not support the hypothesized mediation or second stage moderated mediation model. The indirect effect of the DT on CWB through competitiveness was non-significant at all levels of perceived fairness. Overall, our results suggest that the interaction between competitiveness and status-related fairness perceptions does not play a significant role in the DT’s effect on CWB.
Keywords: dark triad, competitiveness, organizational justice, counterproductive work behavior, fairness of status allocation
A Conditional Process Analysis of the Dark Triad, Competitiveness, Perceived Fairness of Status Allocation, and CWB
Recent years have witnessed an unprecedented interest in the darker side of work behavior and its determinant factors (LeBreton, Shiverdecker, & Grimaldi, 2017; Schyns, 2015). Indeed, destructive behavior in the workplace can have a devastating impact on profitability (e.g., Detert, Treviño, Burris, & Andiappan, 2007). Negative work behavior is commonly referred to as counterproductive work behavior (CWB), which can be defined as intentional behavior on the part of an organization member contrary to the interests of the organization (Sackett & De Vore, 2001). Examples of such behaviors include sabotage, theft, aggression, withdrawal, and absenteeism (Spector et al., 2006). When it comes to antecedents of CWB, several studies have focused on so-called dark personality characteristics, most notably the dark triad (DT; Paulhus & Williams, 2002). The DT is a constellation of three personality traits: psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. All three are short-term, self-serving, exploitive social strategies that correlate positively with disagreeableness, antagonism, and dominance-striving (Furnham, Richards, & Paulhus, 2013; Jonason, Honey, & Semenyna, 2014; Ro, Nuzum, & Clark, 2017). Psychopaths lack sincerity and concern for other people and are manipulative. They are impulsive, prone to a parasitic lifestyle, and are attracted to power. Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self, have fantasies of power and success, and are exploitative to others. Machiavellians are manipulative and deceitful (Geis & Moon, 1981). They are willing to exploit and lie to others to attain their personal goals. These malevolent personalities have been associated with countless destructive behaviors, namely in the workplace. The DT’s generalized proclivity for unethical behavior (Harrison, Summers, & Mennecke, 2016) and aggression (Barlett, 2016) results in more frequent CWB (Grijalva & Newman, 2015; Kessler et al., 2010; Kish-Gephart, Harrison, & Treviño, 2010; O’Boyle, Forsyth, Banks, & McDaniel, 2012). In turn, these behaviors can be devastating for the entire organization (Felps, Mitchell, & Byington, 2006). Although research has provided unequivocal evidence of the problematic behavior of employees with DT traits, few researchers have examined the conditions that activate or exacerbate the facilitating effect of the DT on destructive behavior. The notion that DT traits interact with contextual factors is consistent with recent accounts concerning variability in the DT’s momentary expression in various situations (Nübold et al., 2017). It is thus critical to investigate the workplace factors that promote the emergence of CWB from employees with DT traits. This study will examine the interplay between organizational factors and the DT in the expression of CWB.
The Dark Triad and CWB
The DT traits have been associated with a myriad of maladaptive outcomes, rooted in their manipulativeness, callousness, and antagonism (Jones & Figueredo, 2012; Ro et al., 2017). Destructive interpersonal behaviors associated with the DT include bullying (Baughman, Dearing, Giammarco, & Vernon, 2012), aggression (Jones & Neria, 2015), sadism (Meere & Egan, 2017), mate poaching (Jonason, Li, & Buss, 2010), gossip (Lyons & Hughes, 2015), and violence (Pailing, Boon, & Egan, 2014). Unsurprisingly, this aversive behavioral style is present at work as well. A recent meta-analysis found that higher levels of all three DT traits led to a greater frequency of CWB (O’Boyle et al., 2012; see also Grijalva & Newman, 2015). For instance, follow-up studies showed that those with DT traits are more likely to engage in workplace bullying (Linton & Power, 2013; Pilch & Turska, 2015), abusive leadership (Mathieu & Babiak, 2016), cyberloafing (Lowe-Calverley & Grieve, 2017), and aggressive or forceful interpersonal influence behaviors in the workplace (Jonason, Slomski, & Partyka, 2012). Low levels of conscientiousness and agreeableness, characteristic of those scoring high on DT traits (e.g., Jakobwitz & Egan, 2006; Paulhus & Williams, 2002; Vernon, Villani, Vickers, & Harris, 2008), have also been found to be destructive in terms of CWB (DeShong, Grant, & Mullins-Sweatt, 2015), turnover (Salgado, 2002), bullying (Wilson & Nagy, 2017), and reduced organizational commitment (Panaccio & Vandenberghe, 2012). In a similar fashion, scholars have argued that the DT represents little more than the low pole of the trait of honesty-humility (Hodson et al., 2018), which is associated with workplace delinquency (Ashton, Lee, & de Vries, 2009) and poor job performance (Johnson, Rowatt, & Petrini, 2011). In conclusion, the degenerate behavior generally associated with the DT extends to organizational contexts, as demonstrated by several empirical angles. Prior to any novel hypotheses, we would therefore expect to replicate previous findings concerning the main effect of the DT on CWB.
Hypothesis 1: The dark triad is positively associated with CWB.
Although the evidence supporting the relationship between the DT and CWB is compelling, recent accounts have called for a more nuanced picture of the DT at work (e.g., Braun, 2017; Volmer, Koch, & Göritz, 2016). A growing body of literature suggests that DT traits do not invariably lead to destructive behaviors, but have both “dark” and “bright” sides that lead to contrasting outcomes (Furnham, Trickey, & Hyde, 2012; Judge, Piccolo, & Kosalka, 2009; Spain, Harms, & LeBreton, 2014). Recent findings have revealed that under certain conditions, DT traits can be adaptive on the workplace, or that their can be lessened.
The Dark Triad and Positive Outcomes
Individuals with extraordinary success often have elevated DT traits, a paradox that has long puzzled scholars (e.g., Bagozzi et al., 2013; Zhang, Ou, Tsui, & Wang, 2017). DT traits are disproportionately present in the highest tiers of the corporate and political world (Babiak, Neumann, & Hare, 2010; Lilienfeld, Latzman, Watts, Smith, & Dutton, 2014; Schyns, 2015). For instance, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer Company (currently Apple Inc.), is a recurring example of a successful narcissist (Grijalva & Harms, 2014). Under his supervision, Apple Inc. became the largest company in history, with a market capitalization reaching above $900 billion in 2017. Yet, Jobs’ legendary temper and his lack of concern for others may be perceived as undesirable in most work contexts. In a similar fashion, popular media and academic scholars alike have depicted real estate mogul Donald Trump as a token example of a corporate psychopath or narcissist (Nai & Maier, 2018). Trump, a self-made billionaire, funded his own presidential campaign and became the world’s most powerful man, as the 45th US president. In the same vein, an investigation of 42 U.S. presidents revealed that fearless dominance, a trait associated with psychopathy, was positively related to several objective indicators of presidential performance (Lilienfeld et al., 2012). Superior presidential performance has also been positively associated with narcissism and its grandiose component (Deluga, 1997; Watts et al., 2013). An investigation of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies from 1992 to 2009 found that CEO narcissism increased earnings-per-share (Olsen, Dworkis, & Young, 2014). Thus, DT traits appear to give the edge in prestigious positions, at least until a certain level (e.g., Kaiser, LeBreton, & Hogan, 2015; Zettler & Solga, 2013). The suggestion that many eminent figures in the political and corporate spheres have elevated DT traits suggests that there is more at work than a purposely and pervasively destructive personality that will lead to the downfall of an organization.
At a smaller scale, some evidence suggests that DT traits grant a competitive advantage within organizations. In a sample of working community adults, the boldness component of psychopathy was linked to adaptive leadership and team play, and negatively predicted passive leadership (Neo, Sellbom, Smith, & Lilienfeld, 2016). Similarly, ratings of strategic thinking, creativity, and communication skills were positively related to psychopathic traits (Babiak et al., 2010). In a sample of bank employees, narcissism was positively associated with work drive, enjoyment of work, and engagement in work (Andreassen, Ursin, Eriksen, & Pallesen, 2012). Using pairs of employees and supervisors, researchers found that supervisors rate their narcissistic employees as more innovative, unless they were themselves highly narcissistic (Wisse, Barelds, & Rietzschel, 2015). Narcissistic traits facilitate leader emergence, the process by which leaders are informally elected in a group (Brunell et al., 2008). In a sample of stockbrokers, stronger Machiavellian traits yielded positive correlations with two measures of self-reported performance (Aziz, May, & Crotts, 2002). Machiavellians are highly committed to their careers, but this commitment does not extend to organizations and colleagues (Zettler, Friedrich, & Hilbig, 2011). In entrepreneurship, DT traits have been argued to be differentially adaptive across various stages, from opportunity recognition to opportunity exploitation (Tucker, Lowman, & Marino, 2016). As a consequence of these positive outcomes, DT traits were found to be positively related to earnings (Jonason, Koehn, Okan, & O’Connor, 2018; Lindley, 2017; Spurk, Keller, & Hirschi, 2016). The presence of both positive and negative outcomes paints a picture of the DT as leading to polarized outcomes on the workplace. Taking into account mediating and moderating factors influencing the expression of DT traits is imperative in order to bring clarity to this enigma (Cohen, 2016; LeBreton et al., 2017; Smith & Lilienfeld, 2013).
The Mediating Role of Competitiveness
A characteristic that can shed light on the destructive work behavior associated with the DT is the desire to demonstrate superiority through the attainment of power. Several theoretical and empirical associations have been established between the DT and the desire to attain power and dominance (Dahling, Whitaker, & Levy, 2009; Jonason et al., 2014; Jonason & Ferrell, 2016; Kajonius, Persson, & Jonason, 2015; Kubarych, Deary, & Austin, 2004; Semenyna & Honey, 2015). In daily life and at work, this aspiration towards power and dominance can be illustrated by the relationship between DT traits and competitiveness (Carter, Campbell, & Muncer, 2014), which is the desire to win in interpersonal situations (Newby & Klein, 2014). Indeed, employees with DT traits perceive the workplace as a competitive environment in which colleagues fight for status (Jonason, Wee, & Li, 2015). As such, we hypothesize that the DT is positively related to competitiveness.
Hypothesis 2: the dark triad is positively associated with competitiveness.
Previous literature has compiled comprehensive evidence for the inflated competitiveness of narcissists (Luchner, Houston, Walker, Houston, 2011; Ryckman, Thornton, & Butler, 1994; Watson, Morris, & Miller, 1998), Machiavellians (Houston, Queen, Cruz, Vlahov, & Gosnell, 2015; Martin & Larsen, 1976; Mudrack, Bloodgood, & Turnley, 2012), and psychopaths (Laurijssen & Sanders, 2016; Ross & Rausch, 2001; ten Brinke, Black, Porter, & Carney, 2015). Undoubtedly, individuals with DT traits carry this competitive and status-striving disposition in their career goals and ambitions. This is visible by their attraction to highly competitive fields (e.g., Do & Dadvari, 2017; Hmieleski & Lerner, 2016; Jonason et al., 2015; Kowalski, Vernon, & Schermer, 2015; Lilienfeld et al., 2014; Vedel & Thomsen, 2017). Thus, we suggest that employees with DT traits are competitive in order to gain power, and that this trait is present at work.
In turn, competitiveness can facilitate CWB (Dahling et al., 2009). Gaining status within an organization can be achieved by engaging in socially desirable behaviors such as exerting effort. On the other hand, it can also facilitate deviant behavior. As a result, competitive individuals tend to have a disregard for ethics (Mudrack et al., 2012). Organizational scholars have recently focused on instrumentality as the underlying motivation to engage in CWB (Bowling & Gruys, 2010; Fox & Spector, 2010; Spector et al., 2006). For instance, in an attempt to present a successful image to others, performance-oriented individuals may manipulate their self-presentation (Highhouse, Brooks, & Wang, 2016), or even take credit for others’ work, conceal their errors, or misreport results. The tendency for unethical behavior to get ahead has been demonstrated in individuals whose primary work goal is to outperform others, so-called performance goals. Employees with a primary performance goal have been reported to engage in CWB more frequently (Louw, Dunlop, Yeo, & Griffin, 2016). Similarly, individuals with a primary performance goal are more likely to cheat (van Yperen, Hamstra, & van der Klauw, 2011) and withhold information to prevent others from performing better than them (Poortvliet, Janssen, van Yperen, & van de Vliert, 2007). In a similar fashion, status-striving in employees was found to be weakly related to CWB (Lee, Schwarz, Newman, & Legood, 2017). In an experiment using a sample of American employees, status-striving Machiavellian employees reported engaging more readily in unethical pro-organizational behavior, which could be argued to be within the boundaries of CWB nonetheless (Castille, Buckner, & Thoroughgood, 2016). High self-monitors, who strive to attain personal goals related to status and prestige enhancement, are more likely to engage in CWB in private, where their behavior is not visible to others (Oh, Charlier, Mount, & Berry, 2013). In sum, various empirical findings have suggested that those who seek to outperform others are at risk of engaging in CWB instrumentally to achieve their goals. As such, we expect that competitiveness will lead to more frequent CWB. Furthermore, given the association between the DT and competitiveness, we posit that the relationship between the DT and CWB will be mediated by competitiveness.
Hypothesis 3: Competitiveness is positively associated with CWB.
Hypothesis 4: Competitiveness mediates the relationship between the dark triad and CWB.
In order to understand the intricacies of the DT’s contrasting outcomes, our attention shifts to contextual factors promoting or mitigating unethical workplace behavior. CWB may originate from an interaction between inherent characteristics of DT traits and relevant organizational factors. Certain organizational factors may accentuate (or buffer) the relationship between competitiveness and CWB.
Trait Activation Theory
Recently, scholars have suggested that the DT be investigated through the lens of person-situation interactionism, an enduring theme in personality research (Nübold et al., 2017). Person-situation interactionism highlights the momentary variability in personality states that respond to characteristics of the situation. Correspondingly, DT traits have been portrayed as latent behavioral styles that can be expressed or dormant, through the Trait Activation theory (Castille et al., 2016; Castille, Kuyumcu, & Bennett, 2017; Greenbaum, Hill, Mawritz, & Quade, 2014; Smith, Hill, Wallace, Recendes, & Judge, 2017; Smith & Webster, 2017; Zagenczyk, Smallfield, Scott, Galloway, & Purvis, 2017). The Trait Activation theory stresses the importance of interactions between workplace factors and personality traits to determine work behavior, rather than focusing solely on stable individual differences (Tett & Burnett, 2003; Tett & Guterman, 2000). The core of the theory is the identification of situational cues that activate relevant personality traits. Individuals direct their attention to aspects of a situation that are relevant to their underlying personality traits, and the trait activation process occurs when a workplace setting is relevant to employees’ values, goals, and the way they want to present themselves. In the face of relevant situational cues, individuals are motivated to behave in accordance with their personality by engaging in trait-expressive work behaviors. Since personality traits are latent potentials within employees, understanding the specific triggers of these traits is critical for understanding the role of personality at work. To understand the relationship between CWB and DT traits, a workplace activator must be identified, which evokes CWB in employees with DT traits.
Our model posits that competitiveness, a trait conceptually related to the DT, interacts with perceptions of fairness of status allocation to predict CWB. Given their desire to gain status and power, those with elevated DT traits would be at risk of engaging in CWB when their status is not properly acknowledged. Alternatively, high scores of perceived fairness would buffer the relationship between competitiveness and CWB. Competitiveness would mediate the relationship between the DT and CWB, and organizational justice would moderate the relationship between competitiveness and CWB. Employees with DT engage in more CWB when dissatisfied with their status, but not when satisfied.
Perceived Fairness of Status Allocation
Generally, perceived fairness on the workplace, or organizational justice, is believed to be an organizational factor that activates CWB in employees when perceived as unsatisfying (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Fox, Spector, & Miles, 2001). As employees carry their unique goals and expectations to the workplace, their perceptions of justice are determined by their unique psychogenic needs. With the goal to win and present themselves as powerful (Jonason & Ferrell, 2016; Semenyna & Honey, 2015), those with elevated DT traits want to reach prestigious positions at work. Since the personal sense of power is carried across contexts (Anderson, John, & Keltner, 2012), those with DT traits may have a presumption of status on the workplace (Morrison & Gilbert, 2001). Situations that do not correspond to the way they want to present themselves or that violate their psychogenic motivational needs may then evoke trait expressive work behavior to restore their self-perception as superior. Due to an elevated reward sensitivity (Jonason & Jackson, 2016; Neria, Vizcaino, & Jones, 2016; Stenason & Vernon, 2016), the slow and lifeless process of professional growth may dissatisfy those with expectations to demonstrate superiority at work, as their work behavior is heavily contingent on the promise of status (see Roberts, Woodman, & Sedikides, 2017; Wallace & Baumeister, 2002). Thus, expectations of deference that go unfulfilled may lead some employees to perceive that an organization treats them unfairly, and that the psychological contract has been breached (Bordia, Restubog, & Tang, 2008; Coelho et al., 2018). As a result, employees with DT traits might feel justified to engage in ethical misconduct (McNamara, Campos, & Jackson, 2016) as a just retaliation. Overall, employees with DT traits’ desire for power may be a strong determinant of their perception of justice on the workplace, and may result in CWB when deemed as unsatisfying. When perceptions of fairness are high, there would be no relationship between competitiveness and CWB.
In this case, we define organizational justice as fairness of status allocation, or the extent to which employees perceive the level of deference of others to correspond to their invested effort. If status allocation would be perceived as unsatisfying, the desire to engage in trait expressive work behavior would be activated. The latent desire to win would promote behaviors aimed at restoring the DT’s desire to embody power and dominance, in order to protest against an inability to win. CWB is often the result of frustration, as an attempt to retaliate against the source of the employee’s discontent (Jones, 2008; Kelloway, Francis, Prosser, & Cameron, 2010; Lawrence & Robinson, 2007; Skarlicki & Folger, 1997). Similarly, disgruntled employees may respond to injustice by withdrawing from the organization’s expectations. Indeed, effort withdrawal is a type of CWB that is common for dissatisfied employees with low agreeableness and low conscientiousness (Carpenter & Berry, 2017; Carver & Connor-Smith, 2010; Connor-Smith & Flachsbart, 2007; Shoss, Hunter, & Penney, 2016; Spector et al., 2006). By detaching themselves from their job demands, exerting minimal effort, or purposely sabotaging their workplace, frustrated employees may restore perceptions of themselves as dominant and powerful. Engaging in unethical work behavior would represent a form of emotion-focused coping (Krischer, Penney, & Hunter, 2010), which is the preferred coping preference of the DT (Birkás, Gács, & Csathó, 2016). Through CWB, individuals with pronounced DT traits may cope with the dissatisfaction of their perceived impossibility to be powerful, and attempt to equalize the fairness of outcomes to affirm their sense of power.
Hypothesis 5: Competitiveness and organizational justice interact to predict CWB, in the sense that organizational justice moderates the relationship between competitiveness and CWB. Low (high) organizational justice would strengthen (buffer) the relationship between competitiveness and CWB.
Thus, dissatisfaction with status outcomes may elicit (or activate) defiant behavior in those who see their desire for power impeded. Several experiments have offered tangential support for this hypothesis. Greenbaum and colleagues (2014) found that abusive supervision acted as a trait activator of unethical behavior in Machiavellian employees, because being controlled robbed them of their sense of power and control. Thus, Machiavellians reinstate their feelings of control and power through deviant work behavior. Castille and colleagues (2017) demonstrated that resource constraints activated Machiavellians’ tendency to undermine their colleagues, in order to achieve a higher status. Zagenczyk and colleagues (2017) found that perceived psychological contract violation acted as a trait activator of narcissism, moderating the relationship between narcissism and exit. Since all three DT traits share a power motive (Jonason & Ferrell, 2016) and dominance-striving (Semenyna & Honey, 2015), the aforementioned forms of status undermining could have been expected to evoke similar reactions for psychopaths, for instance in the form of CWB. In an experiment, high levels of fearless dominance and low levels of influence led to CWB (Blickle & Schütte, 2017), suggesting that status-striving employees are most likely to engage in CWB in subordinate positions. Given their elevated sense of entitlement and their proclivity for vengeance, those with DT traits may be especially reactive to treatment that undermines their sense of dominance (Giammarco & Vernon, 2014; Harvey, Harris, Gillis, & Martinko, 2014; Turnipseed & Cohen, 2015), as it does not correspond to the values they endorse or the manner in which they want to present themselves. In various ways, DT traits have been shown to express their frustration with CWB when dissatisfied, namely when their status is unsatisfactory. All in all, we posit that the competitiveness of individuals with strong DT traits leads them to engage in CWB when their sense of power is not legitimized at work. In contrast, we suggest that the mediating effect of competitiveness will dissipate when status-related perceptions of fairness are high.
The Present Study
In this study, we propose a conditional indirect effect model of the DT, competitiveness, organizational justice, and CWB. H1 posits that DT traits would be associated with a higher frequency of CWB. As such, mirroring previous research, we expect a main effect of the DT on CWB. H2 suggests that DT traits will be associated with higher competitiveness scores, based on their elevated need for power. Furthermore, H3 posits that competitiveness will be associated with CWB, and H4 claims that the relationship between the DT and CWB will be mediated by competitiveness. Finally, H5 argues that the relationship between DT traits and CWB will emerge from the interaction of competitiveness and organizational justice: competitive employees engage in CWB when organizational justice is low, but not when it is high.
Our goal is to examine the mechanism by which employees with DT traits engage in CWB. Our conceptual model proposed a moderated mediation model in which DT traits lead to an increase in the desire to win that can potentially lead to CWB. According to the model, when employees with pronounced DT traits would perceive that their efforts do not lead to status gains, this would worsen the negative behaviors attached to the DT. That is, the effect of the DT on CWB is hypothesized to be contingent on the fit between the desires of employees with DT traits and their feelings of fairness. Under conditions of perceived injustice, the employees would detach from their job demands as a coping strategy, or even sabotage their workplace. Alternatively, when employees perceive that their efforts reliably translate into status gains, competitiveness would not be associated with CWB frequency. Thus, perceived unfairness of status allocation would activate the indirect effect of the DT on CWB. Overall, we seek to demonstrate that employees with strong DT traits engage in CWB when their desire for status cannot be legitimized on the workplace (see Figure 1).
|Figure 1. The hypothesized model. c’ denotes the direct effect when the rest of the model is not accounted for, and c denotes the main effect when other variables are partialled out. H4 refers to the mediation effect, and H5 to the full moderated mediation effect.|
Participants and Procedure
Employed participants were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site, which is a platform that facilitates rapid and inexpensive collection of high-quality data (Buhrmester, Kwang, & Gosling, 2011). Each participant was offered $0.80 for the completion of the study. Due to sex differences in manifestation, correlates, and range in narcissism (e.g., Grijalva et al., 2015), Machiavellianism (e.g., Garcia, Adrianson, Archer, & Rosenberg, 2015), psychopathy (e.g., Guerra & White, 2017; Muris, Merckelbach, Otgaar, Meijer, 2017), counterproductive work behavior (e.g., Hershcovis et al., 2007), and competitiveness (Hibbard & Buhrmester, 2010), only males were recruited for the study. Furthermore, the relationships between predictors and subsequent CWB are generally stronger for men (Bowling & Burns, 2015).
Prior to deletion, 246 responses were recorded. Respondents (42) with a total response time below exactly five minutes were directly rejected from the Mechanical Turk platform and were not granted the reward (14 more were deleted from the data set for this reason). Throughout the questionnaire, four bogus items were inserted to identify careless responders, taken from previous work (Huang, Bowling, Liu, & Li, 2014). An example, dissimulated in the psychopathy inventory, stated: “I can teleport across time and space”. Respondents (6) with any level of agreement with more than one statement were excluded from the data analysis. On the last page of the questionnaire, respondents were asked about the quality of their responding in a dichotomous choice item. Respondents (2) who indicated that their responding was suboptimal were excluded from the data analysis. Lastly, participants (11) that did not complete the assignment were excluded. The final sample consisted of 171 men (Mage = 37.8, SDage = 10.4) who were mostly employed full time (Mweekly = 40.1, SDweekly = 8.0), with a median tenure of 39 months. Participants reported various levels of education, namely bachelor degree (40%), high school diploma (21%), and college degree (15%). The average response time was slightly above 13 minutes for approximately 170 items (Mduration = 796.0 seconds, SDduration= 549.2 seconds).
The questionnaires were filled on the Qualtrics online data collection platform. Participants were informed on the welcoming screen that the study aimed to provide an insight into how personality interacts with the workplace to determine work behavior. Additionally, they were given the contact information of the principal investigator and the ethics committee of the University of Groningen. After providing demographic information, participants filled the following questionnaires.
Psychopathy. The Levenson Self-Reported Psychopathy Scale (LSRP; Levenson, Kiehl, & Fitzpatrick, 1995) was used to assess psychopathic traits. The LSRP contains two subscales, primary and secondary psychopathy, comprising of 16 and 10 items respectively. Primary psychopaths commit antisocial acts due to an idiopathic lack of empathy and fear. In contrast, secondary psychopaths share many of the antisocial behaviors of primary psychopaths, but are remorseful and have high levels of anxiety. Primary and secondary psychopathy have different biological, psychological, and behavioral correlates (Yildirim & Derksen, 2015). The LSRP has yielded the same factor structure and validity between incarcerated and non-incarcerated samples (Lynam et al., 1999; Sellbom, 2011). Items were endorsed on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (disagree strongly) to 4 (agree strongly). One item was altered due to its use of an uncommon expression. “When I get frustrated, I often “let off steam” by blowing my top” was replaced by “When I get frustrated, I often “let off steam” by having an angry outburst”. One item was purged because it was mistakenly replaced by a bogus item. The reliabilities of the scales were acceptable to good (Mprimary = 2.00, SDprimary = .49, α = .86; Msecondary = 1.81, SDsecondary = .45, α = .77; Mtotal = 1.92, SDtotal = .40, α = .87).
Narcissism. Narcissism was measured with the Narcissistic Personality Inventory 16 (NPI-16; Ames, Rose, & Anderson, 2005), which is the shortened version of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory 40 (NPI-40; Raskin & Terry, 1988). The NPI-16 scale correlates strongly with the original NPI-40 (Ames et al., 2005), and is showing similar patterns of convergent and divergent validity. While the inventory comprises of 16 dichotomous choices of a narcissistic and non-narcissistic option, the narcissistic option was retained and transformed into a Likert Scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). This alteration of the NPI-16 has previously been shown to yield more information (Boldero, Bell, & Davies, 2015). The reliability of the scale was excellent (M = 2.87, SD = .70, α = .90).
Machiavellianism. The Mach-IV (Christie & Geis, 1970) was used to measure Machiavellianism. The Mach-IV was created by deriving statements from Niccolò Machiavelli’s book Il Principe (although the validity of the derived statements has been disputed; Grace & Jackson, 2014). The inventory consists of 20 items with a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The Mach-IV comprises of three subscales: tactics, morality, and views. No specific hypotheses were attached to the different subscales. One item was altered. Item 12: “P.T. Barnum was wrong when he said that there’s a sucker born every minute” was changed to “There is no shortage of naive people ready to become victims of frauds and cheats”, which is a similar statement, but not embedded in a sociocultural context (unlike the original item, the edited item was not reversed). The reliability of the scale was good (M = 2.77, SD = .54, α = .85).
Dark Triad. A composite variable was created based on the three DT traits. The scores of psychopathy (as one scale), narcissism, and Machiavellianism were transformed into a single score by averaging the standardized total scores. Taken together as 61 items, the reliability of the DT (α = .92) was above the minimum reliability value of 0.7 for composite indicators (Henseler, 2017).
Competitiveness. The Competitive Orientation Measure (COM; Newby & Klein, 2014) was used to assess participants’ level of competitiveness. The inventory consists of 37 items with a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Based on previous competitiveness literature, the scale contains four subscales: general competitiveness, competitiveness, competitive affectivity, and personal enhancement competitiveness. All four components of the COM are positively correlated with previous competitiveness measures, namely the Competitiveness Index (Smither & Houston, 1992), and the Hypercompetitive Attitude scale (Ryckman, Hammer, Kaczor, & Gold, 1990). The reliability of the COM was excellent (M = 3.20, SD = .95, α = .98).
Organizational justice. The scholarly literature lacked an instrument measuring perceived fairness of status allocation. Many forms of status can impact the DT’s perception of justice, which are not necessarily captured by established measures (e.g., authority/respect; Mededović & Petrović, 2016). As we meant to capture perceptions of justice relevant to the DT’s desire for status, an inventory was created specifically for this study. Holistically, the scale aimed to determine how respondents perceive their efforts at work to translate into status gains. The inventory consisted of 20 items with a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Four dimensions were used: status, recognition, reward attainability, and reward attractiveness. Two dimensions (status and recognition) were taken from the Competitive Work Environment Scale (Fletcher & Nusbaum, 2010). Five items were created for the four subscales (see Table 1). Importantly, the scale was used as a composite score. As a whole, the organizational justice scale aimed to capture how employees perceive their honest efforts to be instrumentally beneficial to their desire for dominance.
As this instrument is novel, an examination of the factorability of the scale was warranted with our collected data (N = 171, listwise deletion). The computations were done with the FACTOR statistical package (Lorenzo-Seva & Ferrando, 2006). As our factor structure was theory-driven, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used (Schreiber, Nora, Stage, Barlow, & King, 2006), and we therefore prespecified the number of factors to extract (only one factor; see Baglin, 2014 for recommendations on the use of FACTOR). The extraction method was set to none, the correlation matrix to polychoric, and the factor model to minimum rank factor analysis (Baglin, 2014). The polychoric correlations failed to converge, and Pearson’s r was therefore computed (see Timmerman & Lorenzo-Seva, 2011). The conditions for the suitability of the data for factor analysis were met, with mostly strong correlations between items (from .40 to .90), a statistically significant Bartlett’s statistic = 4064 (df = 190), p < .01, and a KMO of 0.95 (Baglin, 2014; Beavers et al., 2013). The root mean square of residuals (RMSR) was 0.08 (95% CI = .06, .10, p < .01). Thus, the data was suitable for factor analysis according to rules of thumb of factorability standards. The one factor model explained 67% of the total variance, and the items loaded very strongly on the single factor (from .62 to .90). Consequently, based on the factor loadings, the items show good fit and appear to adequately characterize the latent factor. Lastly, the reliability of the scale was excellent (M = 3.42, SD = .88, α = .97). The factor loadings and the full item list can be found in Table 1.
[Insert table 1 here]
Counterproductive work behavior. The short version of the Counterproductive Work Behavior Checklist (CWB-32; Spector et al., 2006) was used to measure CWB. The questionnaire consists of 32 items assessing the frequency of various CWB ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (every day). Items are divided into five subscales: abuse, production deviance, sabotage, theft, and withdrawal. The reliability of the total scale was excellent (M = 1.29, SD = .32, α = .93).
Correlation coefficients can be found in Table 2. Contrasting correlational patterns were observed between primary and secondary psychopathy and these two scales were therefore included separately in the correlation table. As previously reported (e.g., Muris et al., 2017; Paulhus & Williams, 2002), the DT traits were moderately to strongly intercorrelated, especially primary psychopathy and Machiavellianism (r = .63, p < .01; Miller, Hyatt, Maples-Keller, Carter, & Lynam, 2016). As an exception, secondary psychopathy did not correlate significantly with narcissism (r = -.01, p = .87). The mediating variable, competitiveness, was significantly and positively associated with the DT (r = .38, p < .01) and its components, but was very weakly negatively correlated with secondary psychopathy (r = -.16, p < .05). Competitiveness was not associated with CWB (r = .11, p = .17).
To determine the conditional indirect effect, we must begin by demonstrating the main effect of the DT on CWB (pathway c’; H1), the effect of the DT on the mediator, competitiveness (pathway a), and the effect of the mediator in the outcome variable, CWB (pathway b; Baron & Kenny, 1986). As H1 proposed (pathway c’), the DT was positively associated with CWB scores (r = .35, p < .01). Moving on to H2 (pathway b), the DT as a composite variable was significantly and positively associated with competitiveness (r = .38, p < .01). Thus, as H2 posited, the DT significantly predicted competitiveness, or the desire to win. H3 proposed that competitiveness would be positively associated with CWB frequency. The data did not offer support for this hypothesis. A non-significant relationship was found between competitiveness and CWB (r = .11, p = .17). Thus, H1 and H2 were supported by the data, but not H3.
[Insert table 2 here]
H4 argued that the relationship between the DT and CWB would be mediated by competitiveness. The indirect effect represents how CWB is influenced by the DT through a causal sequence in which the DT influences competitiveness, which in turn influences CWB. The indirect effect was computed using the PROCESS macro for SPSS, programmed by Andrew F. Hayes (2013). PROCESS conducts inferential tests using ordinary least squares regression coefficients through the product of the predictor and mediator variables (pathway a and b). PROCESS uses bootstrapping methods in order to estimate the regression coefficients. In mediation analysis, bootstrapping is used to generate a representation of the sampling distribution of the indirect effect as a confidence interval. A simple mediation (PROCESS Model 4) was used, entering the DT as the predictor variable (X), competitiveness as the mediating variable (M), and CWB as the outcome variable (Y). The bootstrapped confidence interval was set to generate 5,000 re-samples. All variables were standardized prior to the analysis. While the predictor variables significantly predicted CWB, F(2, 168) = 11.61, p < 0.01, R2 = 0.12, the hypothesized indirect effect was not supported. The direct effect of the DT on CWB was significant, β = .36, SEβ = .08, t(170) = 4.59, p < .01, but the indirect effect did not significantly predict CWB, β = -.01, SEβ = .02, 95% CI: -.07, .03. Consequently, H4 was not supported. Competitiveness did not mediate the relationship between the DT and CWB.
In order to examine the conditional indirect effect of the DT on CWB (moderated mediation; H5), regression coefficients were also computed using the PROCESS macro. In addition to regular moderation and mediation models, PROCESS can integrate moderation and mediation analysis in the form of a conditional process model (Hayes, 2013), commonly known as moderated meditation. Extending the regions of significance approach introduced by Johnson and Neyman (1936), PROCESS probes moderated mediation effects by identifying values of the moderator for which an mediator effect is statistically significant (-1 SD, mean, and +1 SD; Preacher, Rucker, & Hayes, 2007). Hayes (2015) proposed an index of moderated mediation as a formal inferential test to determine whether the entire moderated mediational model is significant. The index of moderated mediation is the product of regression coefficients taken from the full integrated model (Hayes, 2017). The confidence interval of an index of moderated mediation that does not contain zero is evidence that the conditional indirect effects estimated at different values of the moderator are significantly different from each other, which indicates moderated mediation. In other words, it indicates that the indirect effect impacts the outcomes variable differently at different values of the moderator. The confidence intervals of the indirect effects were computed using the bias-corrected method, as recommended by Williams and MacKinnon (2008).
A second stage moderated mediation model (PROCESS Model 14) was estimated. The DT composite score was entered as the predictor variable (X), CWB as the outcome variable (Y), competitiveness as the mediating variable (M), and organizational justice as the second stage moderator (V). Importantly, all variables were standardized prior to regression analyses.
The regression coefficients and standard errors can be found in Table 3. The overall model was significant, indicating that the study variables significantly predicted CWB scores, F(4, 166) = 6.11, p < 0.01, R2 = .13. The interaction between competitiveness and perceived organizational justice did not significantly predict CWB (β = -.07, SEβ = .08, t(170) = -.96, p = .34). This non-significance was confirmed by the bootstrapped index of moderated mediation (-.03) and its 95% confidence interval (-.09 to .02), which contained zero. In order to probe the moderation, bootstrapped bias corrected confidence intervals were used to locate the region of significance at various values of organizational justice. All confidence intervals included zero, signifying that the indirect effect was statistically non-significant at all levels of organizational justice (-1 SD, mean, +1 SD). Thus, we can be 95% confident that the effects of the DT on CWB, via enhanced competitiveness, did not increase with decreasing organizational justice (as would be concluded with negative indexes of moderated mediation and non-zero CIs). Thus, the indirect effect of the DT on CWB through competitiveness did not vary as a function of organizational justice.
[Insert table 3 here]
In addition to the effect of the DT as a composite variable, we sought to determine the individual effect of the DT traits as unique predictors, as recommended by Hayes (2013) and Paulhus and Williams (2002; cf. Sleep, Lynam, Hyatt, & Miller, 2017). In order to partial out the effect of other DT traits, we entered each one as the independent variable, and the three other personality profiles were entered as covariates. Importantly, both types of psychopathy were entered separately. The overall model was significant, indicating that the study variables significantly predicted CWB scores, F(7, 163) = 4.08, p < 0.01, R2 = 0.15. The main effect on CWB did not remain significant for primary psychopathy, narcissism, or Machiavellianism, but did so for secondary psychopathy, β = .22, SEβ = .08, t(170) = 2.61, p < .01. Examining the conditional indirect effects at 1 SD above, at, and below the moderator mean showed that the indirect effects were not significant for perceptions of low, mean, or high organizational justice. These results suggest that organizational justice does not moderate the indirect effect of the DT on CWB. The bootstrapped confidence interval of the moderated mediation model was not significant for any variable, at all levels of the moderator (the bootstrapped CIs all contained zero). Thus, the interaction between dissatisfaction with status outcomes and competitiveness for individuals with high DT traits does not seem to play a significant role in the expression of CWB. Yet, secondary psychopathy uniquely predicted CWB scores.
DT traits have frequently been described in very strong terms, for instance being characterized as “evil” (Book, Visser, & Volk, 2015). Such terminology undermines the fact that these traits have both constructive and destructive outcomes (Thomaes, Brummelman, Miller, & Lilienfeld, 2017). In this line of reasoning, organizational scholars have adopted a more balanced and interactionist perspective, highlighting the role of workplace stressors in the expression of the DT (e.g., Castille et al., 2017; Greenbaum et al., 2014; Nübold et al., 2017; Zagenczyk et al., 2017). Extending this field of research, this study hypothesized that the DT’s association with CWB emerged from their elevated competitiveness. Emphasizing the role of workplace factors, we also hypothesized that perceived unfairness of status allocation exacerbated the negative behaviors attached to DT traits, through competitiveness. In contrast, we expected that when employees had high perceptions of justice, competitiveness would not be significantly related to CWB. Overall, the appetite for dominance inherent to the DT was expected to lead to increased CWB when employees perceive their status outcomes to be discrepant with their invested effort. Rather than assuming an inflexible malevolent character, the model has emphasized the importance of person-situation interactionism in the study of the DT (Nübold et al., 2017).
To begin with, we hypothesized that the DT would be positively associated with CWB (H1). Consistent with recent meta-analyses and several additional studies (Grijalva & Newman, 2015; O’Boyle et al., 2012), the study demonstrated that DT traits were positively related to CWB frequency. Moreover, all individual DT traits were positively associated with CWB. Our first hypothesis was thus confirmed.
To account for the main effect of the DT on CWB, we introduced a mediator variable. As several theoretical and empirical accounts have shown, individuals with DT traits have a strong desire to obtain external rewards, such as status, power, and prestige (Dahling et al., 2009; Jonason & Ferrell, 2016; Semenyna & Honey, 2015). We suggested that this desire for power could be expressed as competitiveness in daily settings, such as the workplace. While being a successful competitor can be achieved through superior performance, it can also be done using fraudulent methods. Thus, we hypothesized that the DT would be associated with competitiveness (H2), that competitiveness would be associated with CWB (H3), and that competitiveness mediate the relationship between the DT and CWB (H4). Not all these hypotheses were supported. The DT was moderately associated with competitiveness. In turn, competitiveness was not associated with CWB. Furthermore, competitiveness did not mediate the relationship between the DT and CWB.
Lastly, we hypothesized that organizational factors would alter the indirect effect of the DT on CWB. For this, we used the Trait Activation theory (Tett & Guterman, 2000) as our theoretical foundation, which posits that work behavior is determined by the activation of personality traits by relevant situational cues. We hypothesized that the trait activator of the DT was the perception that the status allocation within the organization did not correspond with the invested effort (H5). To put it concisely, competitive employees would be at risk of engaging in CWB when they perceive that their efforts do not translate into status gains. The data did not support the second stage moderated-mediation model. The interaction between competitiveness and organizational justice did not significantly predict CWB. The DT remained a significant predictor of CWB even when organizational justice was high. Probing the indirect effect at different values of organizational justice indicated that there was no significant conditional indirect effect at any value of the moderator.
The final step of our analysis was to investigate the effect of the DT traits individually, while controlling for the other traits. Only secondary psychopathy remained a significant predictor of CWB when controlling for other DT traits. A word of caution is warranted concerning these results, however, as recent literature has detailed pitfalls of partialling out the shared variance of the DT traits (Furnham, Richards, Rangel, & Jones, 2014; Sleep et al., 2017). Sleep and colleagues (2017) argue that bivariate relationships should be prioritized, unless a strong theoretical justification requires such methods.
Overall, our results suggest that the desire for dominance and power inherent to the DT does not play a significant role in the relationship between the DT and CWB, even when employees have low perceptions of justice. These results contrast with recent research suggesting that competitive status rewards attenuated the DT’s effect on CWB. Namely, O’Boyle’s meta-analysis reported that authority buffered the relationship between psychopathy and CWB (O’Boyle et al., 2012). More generally, abusive supervision has been repeatedly associated with subsequent CWB from employees, but high levels of perceived mobility buffer this relationship (Wei & Si, 2013). A few other scholars have discussed moderators that could reduce the association between the DT and CWB (e.g., O’Boyle, Forsyth, & O’Boyle, 2010; Palmer, Komarraju, Carter, & Karau, 2017; Wang, 2017). In sum, employees with DT traits have a predisposition to commit acts of CWB that does not originate in their desire for power. The DT was positively related to CWB even when organizational justice was high.
Alternative theoretical accounts deserve mention. For instance, the DT’s propensity to engage in CWB might stem from a purely instrumental motivation. Milder forms of CWB associated with DT traits can facilitate the attaining of objective measures of success, such as cutting corners (Jonason & O’Connor, 2017), manipulating others (Jonason et al., 2012), cheating in competitive settings (Nicholls, Madigan, Backhouse, & Levy, 2017), or accepting bribes (Zhao, Zhang, & Xu, 2016). As the DT is linked to various forms of instrumentality (Djeriouat & Trémolière, 2014; Boey & Vantilborgh, 2015; Chiaburu, Muñoz, & Gardner, 2013), the perceived instrumental gain of CWB may be an interesting focus for future research. The DT’s effect on CWB might also simply be rooted in the DT’s propensity to boredom (Glenn & Sellbom, 2015), which facilitates CWB (Bruursema, Kessler, & Spector, 2011).
Primary and secondary psychopathy have yielded distinct correlational patterns. Secondary psychopathy did not correlate significantly with narcissism, and was negatively associated with competitiveness. Moreover, a moderate negative relationship was found between secondary psychopathy and organizational justice, which was not found for primary psychopathy. These findings reiterate the relevance of the dual model of psychopathy (Skeem, Poythress, Edens, Lilienfeld, & Cale, 2003; Yildirim & Derksen, 2015). Previous research has documented similar results concerning the two subtypes of psychopathy and CWB. For instance, an experiment found a direct relationship between secondary psychopathy and CWB, and another pathway from a subordinate primary psychopath to CWB (Blickle & Schütte, 2017). These differential relationships between the two types of psychopathy support the idea that the main difference resides in their perceived social rank (Morrison & Gilbert, 2001). In contrast to primary psychopaths, secondary psychopaths may be unable to evoke deference in the workplace due to their poor assertiveness or anxiety (Gudjonsson & Roberts, 1983; Manson, Gervais, Fessler, & Kline, 2014; Skeem, Johansson, Andershed, & Louden, 2007), and feel dissatisfied by their status outcomes. Yet, this does not appear to be rooted in a pronounced psychogenic need for power, as no positive relationship emerged between secondary psychopathy and competitiveness. These contrasting correlates carry important implications for the validity of the DT. As a whole, the DT might be too heterogeneous to be investigated as a unified construct (Muris et al., 2017; cf. Bertl, Pietschnig, Tran, Stieger, & Voracek, 2017; Glenn & Sellbom, 2015), especially in light of recent attempts to broaden the DT to include sadism (Miller, et al., 2010; Paulhus, 2014; Plouffe, Saklofske, & Smith, 2017).
Furthermore, a strong positive relationship between psychopathy and Machiavellianism was found. This overlap has raised doubts about the validity of Machiavellianism as a distinct behavioral profile, suggesting probable construct redundancy (DeShong, Helle, Lengel, Meyer, & Mullins-Sweatt, 2017; Egan, Chan, & Shorter, 2014; Miller et al., 2016; Miller & Lynam, 2015; O’Boyle, Forsyth, Banks, Story, & White, 2014; Persson, Kajonius, & Garcia, 2017; Rogoza & Cieciuch, 2017; Vize, Lynam, Collison, & Miller, 2016; see also Watts, Waldman, Smith, Poore, & Lilienfeld, 2017 for a critical discussion about the factor structure of the DT). Recently, scholars have been quite critical towards the assumed distinctiveness of the DT traits relative to each other, and relative to normal personality traits (Bertl et al., 2017; Hodson et al., 2018; Miller et al., 2016; O’Boyle et al., 2014).
A strong positive relationship was found between competitiveness and organizational justice. One possible explanation is that employees who already feel rewarded by their relative status tend to compete for more (see Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003 for evidence that power promotes the approach of potential rewards), which is perhaps an expression of the reward sensitivity associated with the DT (Jonason & Jackson, 2016; Neria et al., 2016; Stenason & Vernon, 2016). Alternatively, fairness of status allocation and competitiveness might have been confounded. Participants were aware that this study was conducted in the context of their work. The same individuals reported being competitive and being satisfied with their status at work. It is a possibility that this might have been a function of job performance. Top performers, who might be generally satisfied by their informal or formal status (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001), would express a preference for competitiveness—which involves other-referential comparison. Employees that are satisfied with their outcomes might more readily compare their performance with others. Issues pertaining to our measurement of organizational justice are discussed below.
A considerable limitation of this study is the measurement of organizational justice. No pilot study was conducted in order to determine its convergent and divergent validity, factor structure, or reliability prior to data collection. Importantly, the negative relationship between organizational justice and CWB has been consistently replicated for over four decades (Colquitt et al., 2001). Since our study did not yield similar results, the validity of our improvised instrument appears problematic. The absence of convergent validity may have been caused by the conditional formulation of the items. Our items began with: “If I perform well,…”, which denotes an interaction of constructs (how performance impacts rewards). This phrasing might have been confusing and could have distorted the results in ways that we did not foresee. Such a shortcoming may have been circumvented by using a current appraisal (e.g., “My rewards correspond to my invested effort”), or even a static perception, independent of performance (e.g., “I feel good about my status at work”). Additionally, the four subscales of our instrument did not represent established dimensions of organizational justice, namely distributive, procedural, and interactional justice (Colquitt et al., 2001). Consequently, theoretical inferences based on our failure to confirm our conditional indirect model should tread with caution given the lack of information about the validity of our organizational justice scale.
Biased responding may have impacted the validity of the data. Research has shown that self-monitoring and socially desirable responding might be an issue in the investigation of DT traits (Kowalski, Rogoza, Vernon, & Schermer, 2018; see also Roulin & Bourdage, 2017; cf. Ray et al., 2013). Moreover, it is widely accepted that individuals with DT traits often lack insight into their own behavior. This limitation is especially significant given the deceitfulness (Jones & Paulhus, 2017) and manipulativeness associated with the DT.
Restriction of range might have affected our results concerning CWB. Restriction of range is the term applied to cases in which observed sample data are not available across the entire range of interest. The restriction of range may have resulted in attenuated or even non-significant relationships due to a lack of variance of CWB means. Across all respondents and items, only seven instances of the “every day” option were selected. Item means ranged from 1.04 to 2.02 on a 5-point Likert scale, with about half of the items having a mean below 1.20. This may have occurred due to non-response issues, an enduring issue in the CWB literature (Greco, O’Boyle, & Walter, 2015). Greco and colleagues (2015) offer several theoretical accounts for the low base rates in the CWB literature, one of which is that the individuals engaged in the most CWB are the least likely to complete a CWB measure. For instance, agreeableness is positively associated with survey completion, but negatively related to CWB and the DT (Rogelberg et al., 2003). In addition, we reiterate the deceitfulness and tendency to engage in socially desirable responding associated with the DT (Jones & Paulhus, 2017; Kowalski et al., 2018). In sum, our results are based on a sample that reported virtually no CWB. Statistical methods can be used to rectify this situation (e.g., Wiberg & Sundström, 2009). Thus, restriction of range may have impacted the quality of our data.
The present findings are of interest for the management of employees with various levels of psychopathic, narcissistic, and Machiavellian traits. While the data failed to support the moderated mediation model, our results provide novel insights into the DT, and add to a rapidly expanding body of literature about the DT. Our results show that employees with DT traits are highly competitive, but that it does not explain their unethical work behavior. While previous research has shown that this propensity could be diminished (e.g., Wang, 2017; see also Lee et al., 2017), our results provide a glim picture of the DT at work. It is commonly said that dark personality traits help individuals “get ahead”, but not necessarily “get along” (Hogan, 2007). Our results suggest that the DT’s inability to get along in organizations is not rooted in their desire to get ahead.
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|Factor Loadings for the Organizational Justice Scale|
|If I perform well, it reliably translates into rewards||0.83|
|If I perform well, it is reflected it my rewards||0.86|
|If I perform well, it doesn’t go unnoticed||0.71|
|If I perform well, it is taken into account when it comes to my rewards||0.86|
|If I perform well, my compensation will be increased||0.84|
|If I perform well, the rewards I can obtain are attractive||0.90|
|If I perform well, I obtain rewards that I value||0.87|
|If I perform well, the rewards I can obtain are appealing||0.86|
|If I perform well, I will get rewards that I find advantageous||0.86|
|If I perform well, I will get opportunities that I cherish||0.82|
|If I perform well, I can reach a higher status||0.86|
|If I perform well, I can climb the corporate ladder||0.83|
|If I perform well, there are promotions and opportunities available to me||0.82|
|If I perform well, I can be granted more power||0.82|
|If I perform well, a more important position awaits me||0.83|
|If I perform well, I will be praised by others||0.67|
|If I perform well, I will obtain recognition from it||0.80|
|If I perform well, others will honor my effort||0.79|
|If I perform well, I will get a great deal of respect from others||0.78|
|If I perform well, my coworkers will show appreciation||0.62|
|Note. N = 171 (listwise). One factor solution.|
|Correlation Coefficient Table|
|1. Dark Triad||(.92)|
|2. Primary Psychopathy||.84**||(.86)|
|3. Secondary Psychopathy||.43**||.38**||(.77)|
|7. Organizational Justice||.01||-.03||-.32**||.35**||-.18*||.45**||(.97)|
|Notes. Reliability coefficients (α) are displayed in parentheses on the diagonal. *p < .05. **p < .01 (two-tailed).|
|Regression Coefficient Table|
|β||SE||Lower bound||Higher bound|
|Competitiveness × Organizational Justice||-.06||.07||-.20||.07|
|Note. *p < .05. **p < .01.|