Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

How much can people fake on the dark triad? A meta-analysis and systematic review of instructed faking

Walker, Sarah A.; Double, Kit S.; Birney, Damian P.; MacCann, Carolyn


Kit S. Double

Damian P. Birney

Carolyn MacCann


Prior meta-analyses demonstrate that people can intentionally distort Big Five personality scores when instructed. As yet, there is no equivalent meta-analysis addressing instructed faking on the dark triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy). Therefore, we review mean score changes to the dark triad domains and facets under instructed faking. Due to insufficient k for meta-analysis, narcissism and Machiavellianism were systematically reviewed alongside psychopathy. The systematic review revealed inconsistent findings for narcissism and Machiavellianism with several effects in the opposite direction than expected. The psychopathy meta-analysis showed that: (a) scores were significantly lower under fake good compared to answer honestly instructions (d = −0.40); and (b) scores were significantly higher under fake bad compared to answer honestly instructions (d = 1.88). Subgroup analyses revealed significant score decreases under fake good instructions for both primary (d = −0.56) and secondary psychopathy (d = −0.96), and a significant score increase under fake bad instructions for primary (d = 1.69) and secondary psychopathy (d = 1.50). We conclude that dark triad measures are fakeable to a similar extent as the Big Five, and discuss the relevance of our findings for dark triad assessment in several applied contexts.


Walker, S. A., Double, K. S., Birney, D. P., & MacCann, C. (2022). How much can people fake on the dark triad? A meta-analysis and systematic review of instructed faking. Personality and Individual Differences, 193, Article 111622.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 25, 2022
Publication Date 2022-07
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2024
Journal Personality and Individual Differences
Print ISSN 0191-8869
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 193
Article Number 111622
Public URL