A new study recently published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences provides some amazing insights into possible reasons and minds of people who might be risking the lives of others by breaking the containment measures through their low compliance to rules set out by the WHO and their respective governments.

The study was conducted by researchers from the State University of Londrina and São Francisco University on 1,578 Brazilian adults who answered various questions about compliance with containment measures and coronavirus testing for 15 weeks. Brazil is one of the few countries still showing an increasing trend by the time the study concluded according to WHO.

The research concluded that the Dark Triad of negative traits of antisocial personality which includes Psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and Narcissism had a connection with low adherence to containment measures. It also found out that “lower levels of empathy and higher levels of Callousness and Risk-Taking, are directly associated with compliance with containment measures.”

People low on empathy and compassion are also likely to care less about the impact of their actions on the welfare of others, even if it involves the lives of others.

The antisocial personalities tend to score low on agreeableness on the Big five theory of personality which is also in line with earlier studies and literature. Such groups also scored higher on antisocial traits including “Callousness, Deceitfulness, Hostility, Impulsivity, Irresponsibility, manipulativeness, & risk-taking.”

What this means is that such people are likely to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that can have negative repercussions for others. They are also likely to use lies and deceits to have their way. E.g. if a classic psychopath is infected, he is likely to spread the virus and take pleasure from it.

The researchers said “Our findings can be useful for public health policies screenings that demonstrate an elevation in these traits, interventions can be carried out aiming at greater awareness and consequent compliance with containment measures,”

The results of the study suggest that people who make rash decisions in their normal lives are likely to sustain that pattern in times of crisis & emergency as well. A person’s personality generally stays the same and small clues can provide powerful insights into a person’s set of values and character & how they are likely to behave and react.

This study also sits in well with a study published in July 2020 in the European Journal of Psychological Assessment which has added Sadism to the already existing Dark Triad of antisocial traits of a personality mentioned above.

Manzar Bashir is a qualified Business Psychologist. He is a chartered member of the CIPD UK and a principal Practitioner of the Association for Business Psychology UK. You can reach him at manzar@potentialmapping.com and see some of his recent work at manzarbashir.com

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