Survey Links ‘Dark Tetrad’ Personality Traits Like Narcissism to Buying Crypto
Since the invention of Bitcoin in 2009, the global cryptocurrency market has grown from nothing to worth about 2 trillion US dollars. From a price of US$1 in 2011, Bitcoin hit an all-time high of over US$63,000 in April 2021, and is now hovering around the US$42,000 mark.
Large fluctuations in cryptocurrency prices are common, making it a highly speculative investment. What kind of people are willing to take the risk and what motivates them?
We conducted a survey discover. In particular, we wanted to know the relationship between so-called “dark tetrad” personality traits and attitudes towards cryptocurrency.
The black tetrad
They are called “dark” because of their “evil” qualities: extreme selfishness and taking advantage of others without empathy. Dark tetrads are also often linked to risky behaviors.
The Lure of Cryptocurrency
We have identified two main areas of appeal. First, the high risks and high potential returns of crypto trading make it appealing to the type of people who enjoy gambling.
Second, cryptocurrencies are not issued or backed by governments like traditional or “fiat” currencies. This makes them attractive to people who distrust the government.
What are the personalities of crypto buyers?
We asked 566 people to complete online personality surveys and answer questions about their attitude towards crypto and whether or not they intend to invest in it. Of our participants, 26% said they own crypto and 64% expressed interest in investing in crypto.
We measured their dark tetrad traits using standard psychological tests. We also measured traits that might link the dark tetrad to crypto judgments: fear of missing out (FOMO; the feeling that others live better than you), positivity (the tendency to be positive or optimistic in life), and belief in conspiracy theories.
Why do people want to buy crypto? It’s not just about making money
A common reason for investing in crypto is the expectation of high returns. Beyond the desire to build wealth, our research shows that dark personality traits also drive crypto buying.
Machiavellians take a calculated approach to achieving their goals and avoid impulsive decisions. They are less likely to engage in gambling problem.
Machiavellians also tend to believe strongly in government conspiracies. For example, they often believe that politicians generally do not reveal their true motives and that government agencies closely monitor all citizens.
We found Machiavellians like crypto mainly because they distrust politicians and government agencies. Many crypto proponents believe that governments are corrupt and crypto avoids government corruption.
Overconfidence and positivity
Narcissism is a self-centered personality trait, characterized by feelings of privilege and dominance over others. Narcissists are overconfident and are more willing to do things like make risky investments in the stock market and play.
Narcissists tend to focus on the positive side of life. We found narcissists like crypto because of their high faith in the future and their belief that their own lives will improve.
Impulsive Psychopaths Love Crypto
Psychopathy is an insensitive and impulsive antisocial personality trait. Psychopathic people often have trouble perceiving, understanding, or managing their emotions due to a lack of emotional intelligence and empathy.
The reckless nature of psychopaths makes them more resilient to stress and anxiety. As a result, psychopaths like stimulus seeking and risk taking. They are prone to gambling and gambling addiction.
We have found that impulsive psychopaths love crypto because they fear missing out on the investment rewards that others experience.
How is sadism involved?
Every day sadism relates to a personality enjoying the suffering of others. Sadists often display aggressive and cruel behavior. For example, sadists troll others on the Internet for fun.
On the face of it, buying crypto is unlikely to harm others. However, we found some sadists like crypto because they also don’t want to miss out on investment rewards. For them, perhaps the pleasure of seeing the pain of others and the fear of missing out are linked to selfishness.
Unlike narcissists, we found that psychopaths and sadists lack positivity about their outlook, negating their taste for crypto.
Above: Dark Tetrad personality traits influence positivity, conspiratorial beliefs, and fear of missing out, which in turn influence attitudes toward cryptocurrency.
A psychological lens
Studying cryptocurrency through the psychological lens of the dark tetrad offers insight into why people want to buy crypto. We’re not suggesting that anyone interested in crypto display dark tetrad traits.
We only studied a subset of people interested in crypto who exhibit these characteristics. If you happen to be a holder of Bitcoin or another crypto, you may or may not expose them.