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The Darker Aspects of Motivation: Pathological Personality Traits and the Fundamental Social Motives

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2017.36.2.87

Basic personality traits (e.g., agreeableness) have been found to be associated with various social motives. In the present studies, we were interested in determining whether the pathological personality traits captured by the Personality Inventory for the DSM-5 (PID-5) were associated with certain fundamental social motives (e.g., self-protection, disease avoidance, status seeking). In Study 1, we examined the associations between the pathological personality traits and the fundamental social motives in a sample of 311 community members. Negative affectivity had positive associations with a range of fundamental social motives (e.g., self-protection, disease avoidance). Detachment had positive associations with social motives that involved separation from others (i.e., disease avoidance and independence) and negative associations with various social motives that involved closeness with others (e.g., mate retention, kin care). Antagonism had positive associations with social motives that involved direct social benefits for the self (e.g., status seeking) and negative associations with social motives that involved a focus on others (e.g., kin care). Disinhibition and psychoticism shared a negative association with mate retention. In Study 2, we examined whether the interaction of pathological personality traits and the fundamental social motive concerning status seeking would predict how individuals pursued status (e.g., dominance-based strategies) in a sample of 213 community members. Our results revealed that detachment interacted with status seeking motivation to predict the extent to which individuals employed the dominance-based strategy for pursuing status. Discussion focuses on the implications of these findings and how they can expand our understanding of the connections between the pathological aspects of personality and social motives.