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.
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.
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.
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.