Personality traits and performance enhancing drugs: The Dark Triad and doping attitudes among competitive athletes

Adam R Nicholls, Daniel J Madigan, Susan H Backhouse, Andy R Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
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The use of performance enhancing drugs, also known as doping, can represent a serious threat to an athlete’s psychological and physical health and contravenes the spirit of sport. Scholars identified attitudes towards doping as a crucial factor that indirectly influences doping behaviors. Further, prominent theoretical frameworks that are designed to explain why athletes dope state that personality traits shape doping attitudes. To date, however, scholars are yet to examine the relationship between attitudes towards doping and personality traits such as the Dark Triad. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the Dark Triad and doping attitudes amongst a sample of competitive athletes. Two hundred and eighty-five athletes completed a measure of the Dark Triad and attitudes towards doping. Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism all correlated positively with attitudes towards doping. Machiavellianism and psychopathy explained 29% of the variance in attitudes towards doping, whereas narcissism did not independently contribute to the variance in doping attitudes. These results reveal that athletes who score highly on the Dark Triad may be more likely to dope and therefore might need targeted antidoping education and long-term monitoring to reduce their risk of taking banned substances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-116
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date18 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Machiavellianism
  • Performance EnhancingDrugs
  • Psychopathy
  • Narcissism


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