Published on 06 December 2021

What Is Dark Psychology?

General Psychology what-is-dark-psychology
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When it comes to balancing strength, power, and manipulation, dark psychology is defined as using psychological precepts in ways that harm the target.

Dark Psychology is a human tendency that uses behaviors like manipulation, persuasion, motivation, and coercion for their benefit.

As said by Sigmund Freud, "Drive operates as a constant motivational force." Because of these drives, people behave how they do, be it negative or positive. Outside the fantasy world, this side of psychology is used in every field and daily life. These traits persist in all of us but lead to an extent without repression, only in a few.

Dark Psychology considers the dark side of human behavior, often involving unethical practices like deception, intimidation, domination, exploitation, and aggression. Historically, practices in this field have been used in public speaking, countering hostile negotiation tactics, or even mind control. 

It can be applied to business negotiations, politics, and social engineering. Despite its potential for misuse, it continues to be studied by psychologists and cognitive scientists, seeking insight into why people do bad things and how they might be prevented from doing such things.

The History Of Dark Psychology

Dark Psychology is an area of study that seeks to explain illegal, immoral, and unethical behavior. It has its roots in the theoretical work of Sigmund Freud, who proposed the concept of the unconscious mind, where desires and motivations are hidden but influential in behavior. 

Since then, a number of theorists have contributed to the body of literature focusing on dark psychology, including B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning and quantum physics explored how others can manipulate universal energy. 

Researchers have studied various aspects within this field, such as aggression and deception, and explored different applications, such as persuasion techniques or psychological tactics used by cult leaders. 

Recently, some experts have argued that knowledge of dark psychology may help law enforcement professionals develop more effective strategies for dealing with criminals.

Frequently asked questions

Primarily, one must understand others' motivations and beliefs to anticipate reactions and behavior. Secondly, skillful communication so that a person can blend facts with fictional stories or analogies. Lastly, one must remain ethical and transparent and not mislead the other party.
Dark Psychology is used by experienced professionals in various situations when seeking to influence or persuade a person. It can be effective in sales, negotiations, and other kinds of interactions where it's necessary to use subtle tools to achieve desired objectives.
Dark psychology includes techniques such as gaslighting, propensity exploitation (using someone's natural tendencies to manipulate them), making logical discrepancies (manipulating data to create an inaccurate picture), and creating false dilemmas.

Is Dark Psychology A Real Thing?

While there is no such thing as dark psychology, the Dark Triad personality characteristics have been extensively researched. Dark Psychology combines three personality qualities that make up the foundation of probably the worst person you'll ever encounter.

Benefits Of Dark Psychology

Dark Psychology is an interdisciplinary field with various benefits for professionals in the mental health profession. This form of psychology allows practitioners to understand better what motivates human behavior, enabling them to assess better and treat psychological disorders. 

By gaining insight into the underlying dynamics of certain behaviors, professionals can design more effective intervention strategies to help those struggling with complex mental health challenges. 

In addition, understanding the principles of dark psychology can help professionals identify signs of substance misuse, high-risk behaviors, or changes in emotional states before they become overwhelming and unmanageable. This knowledge can create appropriate treatment plans tailored to the individual’s needs and provide timely interventions when needed. 

Ultimately, Dark Psychology gives practitioners a toolkit that extends beyond traditional therapeutic practices and helps them offer their clients highly effective treatment options.

What Is a Dark Triad?

The term "Dark Triad" refers to the dark or negative psychological traits that affect an individual and their surroundings in a toxic manner. Dark Psychology has many such negative traits list that would be never-ending. Hence, the traits have been categorized into Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy.


Narcissistic people can turn out to be selfish, egotistical, arrogant, uncompassionate, and thin-skinned to criticism.


The word from the Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, the author of the most famous thesis on bare-knuckled politics, "The Prince," depicts the art of cunningness and duplicity in diplomacy. The traits included in this part of Dark Psychology are duplicity, manipulation, self-obsession, and immorality.


This trait includes continuous anti-social behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, unemotional, and relentless behavior. It is essential to acknowledge the difference between psychopathic traits and being a psychopath, commonly associated with criminal violence.

How To Pinpoint These Traits?

The traits belonging to the Dark Triads of Dark Psychology can be categorized into Dark Triad Test and Reasoning.

Dark Triad Test

Often used by the police and courts, in the psychiatric ward, and big corporations, The Dark Triad test is a personality inventory that explores the socially undesirable traits of Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy. 

Studies show that people who score high on Dark Triad Test have a high chance of committing a crime, causing social distress and rooting problems at the workplace. This test aims to measure an individual's Dark Triad traits according to brief and easy-to-answer test items that accurately measure the individual's Dark Triad traits.

The questions are in the format of a self-test, and the individual has to rate themselves based on the given sentences:

  • I tend to mislead others to get my way.
  • I have used cringe to get my way.
  • I have used unnecessary lying.
  • I tend to exploit others towards my end.
  • I tend to lack remorse.
  • I tend to be callous or insensitive.
  • I tend not to be too concerned with morality or the morality of my actions.
  • I tend to be cynical.
  • I tend to seek prestige or status.
  • I tend to want others to give attention to me.
  • I tend to want others to praise me.
  • I tend to expect special goodwill from others.

At its basic level, an individual would be rated from 1 to 7 on each of the 12 questions, giving a possible score between 12 to 84. The more the score, the more the probability of having Dark Triad tendencies.

How To Avoid Being Manipulated By Dark Psychology?

Knowing the following strategies can help you protect yourself and recognize when you are being used. You don't have to be paranoid, but you should safeguard yourself and the people you care about. When you feel someone is attempting to manipulate you, there are actions you may do to combat their evil techniques.

It's crucial to remember that these methods may be used by anybody, but the danger you can face depends on who is utilizing them. If a friend or family member uses manipulation methods, for example, you are likely to be at less risk than if someone you don't know does.

Awareness Is Important

When someone manipulates you, you typically have a sense of it. You'll be anxious, guilty, pressured, annoyed, and even furious. At the same time, you may be perplexed about why you are experiencing these feelings. This is a red flag that you should be careful in your interactions with the other individual.

Question What You’re You Being Told To Do

If you challenge the person's thinking and goal, a manipulator (whether deliberate or not) will generally reassess and stop utilizing manipulation methods. Ask inquiries in a way that doesn't accuse but does underline the fact that you're uncomfortable with the encounter and can defend yourself. "What you want from me, sound fair?" "So, what do I get out of this?" and "Are you really expecting me to…?" are all questions you might ask.

State Your Position

If you believe someone is trying to influence you or is playing mind games with you, make a firm and a confident declaration stating that you will not be engaged in any connections or interactions with them if they employ dark techniques. "I'm not comfortable with where this interaction is headed" or "I don't operate this way" are two statements you might use. "I don't like how you're handling this encounter," you might say more directly (or treating me). You're not going to be able to influence me."

Make A Decision Over Whether Or Not To Proceed

Finally, you must choose your next course of action. Will you offer the manipulator the choice of trying a different method to engage, or will you move on and leave the situation? You could also have to decide whether to keep or end the connection. You will need to base this on how the individual accepts your comments and responds to your limits because you are the only one who can determine the answers. 

It may be difficult to break up with someone who is a member of your family or a workplace. In this instance, you may need to keep your distance and devise a strategy for dealing with that individual.

Techniques Used in Dark Psychology

Dark psychology is an area of psychological science that involves manipulation, persuasion, and deception techniques used to exploit cognitive vulnerabilities in target individuals. It has become more frequently adopted by professionals from various fields, such as business, marketing, and politics. 

Techniques Used In Dark Psychology Include

Emotional manipulation entails taking advantage of a person's susceptibility to their emotions. 

Gaslighting is an indirect manipulative tactic used to make someone doubt their thoughts or feelings to influence their behavior or decisions. 

Mirroring is when people adapt the behaviors and mannerisms of another person in order to gain power over them. 

Agreeableness bias involves relying on superficial similarities while ignoring systematic differences between people’s core beliefs and viewpoints to gain their trust. 

Anchoring typically happens during negotiations when one party sets an initial starting point for settlement as a benchmark designed to keep discussion anchored around it before further exploration by both parties occurs with regard to adjusted settlement prices.

Innuendos are loaded statements communicated without explicitly expressing what one means, which can contribute to manipulating a person’s decision-making process.

Seduction seeks attachments and bonds based not on mature love and affection but on traumatic bonds that leverage or create psychological wounds.

These are the techniques used in dark psychology. As it can be used by people around

How To Deal With Manipulators?

Here are a few top picks to help you handle people with Dark Triad traits:

Machiavellians- Make it about them. Talk to them about themselves, interest them in a conversation where you make them look good, slipping in your request in the process.

Narcissists- The best part about them is that they do not believe in concealing anything. Anything that motivates them is out in the open. Once you know what drives them, dealing with them becomes a lot easier.

Psychopaths- The primary key here is to have patience. Psychopaths do not stay on something for a long while. Once they burn down the bridges, they move on.

Reasons To Avoid Dark Psychology 

Using dark psychology can be dangerous as it relies on manipulation, deceit, and unethical techniques that contradict the morals and ethics governing professional businesses. 

Dark psychology should be avoided in professional settings not only because it provides a highly unethical environment with no clear rules or guidelines but also because using these deceptive tactics could put businesses at risk of losing employees' trust, alienating stakeholders, tarnishing the company's reputation, leading to legal issues and undermining work relationships. 

Moreover, utilizing dark psychology without proper training or understanding of its repercussions may lead to conflicts, compromised communication, and lack of collaboration between peers resulting in an unproductive work atmosphere.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Conflict management, assertiveness, and emotional intelligence skills will help manage someone with Dark Triad traits. However, given the risk these behaviors bring and their potential for causing severe destruction to an organization or individual, these behaviors must be addressed actively and vigorously to prevent any mental fallback.

The popularity of dark psychology is rising and for a good reason. It's an important topic to cover, and knowing how to handle it should be a key part of your Education. That's not all, though; there are plenty more things you should learn about dark psychology so that you can build the mental tools you'll need to face these issues head-on.