Differences in personality traits that may explain why people do and do not comply with COVID-19 protective measures (e.g. social distancing, mask wearing), have found that psychopathy and sadism are associated with less compliance with protective measures and more health/safety risk taking. Machiavellianism is associated with a decreased willingness to get vaccinated.
People with higher Conscientiousness, Agreeability, and Emotional Stability were found to be more accepting of getting vaccinated, or, in the event of Conscientiousness, even supporting mandatory vaccination in certain situations, according to Iva Konc and her colleagues in their study.
The Dark Tetrad of personality traits, which includes Machiavellianism (deviousness), narcissism (self-proclaimed exceptionalism), psychopathy (defiant recklessness) and sadism, are often associated with noncompliance of protective measures. One explanation of this is that people who possess dark traits tend to engage in risky behaviors and complying with protective measures is considered a risk averse behavior.
In February and March of 2021, researchers recruited a sample of 348 adult participants from the general population to investigate the relationship between Dark Tetrad traits and COVID-19 protective measures.
Participants were assessed for the Dark Tetrad traits, risk-taking behavior (ethical, health/safety, and recreational hazards), and how often they complied with COVID-19 protective measures. They were also asked if they approved or not getting a vaccination.
Higher recklessness (aspect of psychopathy) and violent voyeurism (aspect of sadism) had minor negative effects on compliance with protective measures; however, this effect disappeared when health/safety risk taking was taken into account. In other words, the relationship between psychopathy and sadism is explained in a few areas of compliance.
High deviousness (aspect of Machiavellianism) was associated with a less willingness to get vaccinated. When health/safety risktaking behavior was considered, Machiavellianism remained constant. Regardless of one''s tendency toward health/safety risks, high Machiavellianism is associated with a less willingness to get vaccination.
Overall, these results align with the study authors expectations. Generally, these results are in accordance with previous studies in which dark traits, except narcissism, showed negative impacts on COVID-19 protective behaviors, according to the researchers.
The results of this study have been generally small. One of the problems may be the strong situation hypothesis, according to which personality traits have less room to play an important role in anticipating behaviors in a severe situational context, such as the pandemic.
The Dark Tetrad traits are significantly shorter than those that were used, therefore future research should focus on this work with these extra-multidimensional measures.
Iva Konc, Kristina Petrovic, and Bojana M.Dinic, authors the research Dark Tetrad and COVID-19 protective measures.