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Psychology Researchers Discover A New, Toxic Personality Type "Dark Empaths"

Recent psychological research has identified a concerning personality trait, so move over narcissists as “dark empaths’ are declared “the most dangerous” personality.

Recent psychological research has identified a concerning personality trait, so move over narcissists as “dark empaths’ are declared “the most dangerous” personality.

A new study published in the ‘Personality and Individual Differences.’ 

The study, recently published in Personality and Individual Differences journal, identified a new personality trait referred to as ‘dark empathy’ and those who possess it as ‘dark empaths’. 

So what is empathy?

Empathy can be broken up into three categories: 

Cognitive: This describes the intellectual understanding of someone else’s feelings without sensing them.

Affective: feeling someone else’s emotions as your own.

Compassionate: a combination of cognitive and emotional empathy.

Researchers state that Individuals are considered dark empaths when they possess cognitive and/or affective empathy as well as characteristics from the “dark triad” – a collective term for three dark personality traits: Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism.

Traditionally, researchers have found that those with darker characteristics are often associated with a lack of empathy, and this new data reinforced that assertion. 

“As expected, we found a traditional dark triad group with low scores in empathy (about 13 per cent of the sample). We also found a group with lower to average levels across all traits (about 34 per cent were “typicals”) and a group with low dark traits and high levels of empathy (about 33 per cent were empaths),” the study’s authors said.

 “However, a fourth group of people, the ‘dark empaths’, was clearly evident. They had higher scores on both dark traits and empathy (about 20 per cent of our sample). Interestingly, this latter group scored higher on both cognitive and affective empathy than the ‘dark triad’ and ‘typical’ groups,” they added.

The researchers also found that the dark empaths were more indirectly aggressive than typicals and empaths.

While empathy did limit the group’s level of aggression, it did not eliminate it completely.

Furthermore, it appeared that the group had a conscience and may even dislike their dark side, with the negative emotions being a response to their self-loathing, the team said.

Alarmingly, “A dark empath may actually be more dangerous than a more cold and unfeeling dark triad type because the so-called dark empath can draw you in closer — and do more harm as a result,” Ramani Durvasula, PhD, a clinical psychologist, told PsychCentral.