Individuals high on the dark triad traits appear to exhibit an empathic profile that allows them to retain their ability to read and assess others’ emotions, and subsequently utilize this sensitive information to formulate strategies with which they can acquire what they want, while their lack of affective empathy may lead them to overlook or ignore potential harm inflicted to others in the process.


Malignant narcissists on the high end of the narcissistic spectrum gain pleasure from taking people down. Research has shown that those who are high in dark triad traits (such as narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) actually take pleasure in seeing sad faces. It all feeds into their grandiose sense of power and superiority. They use “cold” or cognitive empathy to assess the weaknesses and strengths of their victims, but their empathy does not extend to affective empathy, which would allow them to consider or care about the harm they inflict.