Debunking the “Bitcoiners are Psychopaths” study.

A study claiming that psychopaths and others with “Dark Tetrad” personality traits are attracted to crypto has been criticized as “meaningless” by a University of Otago psychology expert for showing a very weak correlation.

Researchers with a majority background in marketing and advertising from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) surveyed 566 people about their attitudes towards crypto and correlated the results with four specific personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and sadism.

The results were the first divided by The US Sun and has been widely syndicated by mainstream media, with the New York Post headline screaming “Bitcoin Fans Are Psychopaths Who Don’t Care” and Salon claim that “Impulsive psychopaths like Krypto”.

But speaking to Cointelegraph, Professor Martin Sellbom of the University of Otago’s Department of Psychology — an international expert on personality disorders and personality assessment — criticized the study’s findings as essentially meaningless.

“The effects they report, for example the strength of the relationships between these so-called ‘dark tetrads’ traits and attitudes and intent to buy cryptocurrency, are very weak, quite meaningless, in my opinion.”

The widely used Short Dark Triad (SD-3) personality test, which assesses the traits of psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism with a maximum score of 5, was used to assess participants’ personality.

The results of the study show that the participants’ scores for psychopathy and narcissism were below the average scores determined by the psychometric assessment group OpenPsychometrics. Participants scored 2% below average for psychopathy and 16.7% below average for narcissism, but scores for Machievellianism were 3.6% higher.

But Professor Sellbom said that this line of research was definitely “uninformative about psychopathy and narcissism,” adding:

“The meters used in this literature do not capture the full manifestations of these disorders.”

The authors expanded their findings in an article for The Conversation, noting that narcissists like crypto “because of their great belief in the future” and because of a “confidence that their own life will improve.”

Related: Crypto Critics: Can FUD Ever Be Useful?

Psychopaths are apparently attracted to crypto because they “fear of investing in rewards that others are experiencing,” and Machiavellians like crypto because “they distrust politicians and government agencies.”

Other traits, such as positivity and belief in conspiracy theories, were also measured as traits that “might tie the dark tetrad’s judgments on crypto.”

Of those surveyed, only 26% owned cryptocurrency, and of those who didn’t, nearly 64% said they were “interested” in investing.

Sellbom said the methodology of associating traits like FOMO with psychopathy is flawed, as collecting a sample of both interest in crypto and psychometric outcomes from the same person at the same time only once is “rather uninformative,” he added of the conclusions, arrived at “cannot be supported in the simple manner they present”.

“Looking at the same results, my interpretation would be that the relationship between dark tetrad traits and attitudes towards and intention to buy cryptocurrency is weak, and these traits are unlikely to provide much understanding to those familiar with the cryptocurrency deal with buying cryptocurrency.”

It should be noted that the researchers themselves stated in the report that they do not want to suggest that Bitcoiners are psychopaths, as some media outlets were quick to explain.

“We are not suggesting that all crypto buyers exhibit Dark Tetrad traits. Instead, we’re examining a subset of people who are interested in crypto and have those traits.”

Discussing the limitations of their work, the researchers said that while the study measured participants’ interest in investing in stocks, bonds, or crypto, the study could have set a control variable by measuring their intention to invest in these types of investments to participate in investments.

“Many experts on psychopathy and narcissism question this so-called dark personality literature,” Professor Sellbom said, “because researchers do not really study these personality disorders, which are much more complex than the measures used suggest.”

The authors of the study are Brett Martin, Professor of Marketing QUT; dr Di Wang, lecturer at the QUT School of Advertising and Marketing; Jun Yao, associate professor of marketing at Macquarie University; Carolyn Strong, Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Cardiff University; and Polymeros Chrysochou, Professor of Marketing at Aarhus University.

Given the authors’ marketing and advertising background, it seems possible that they would understand how to frame the results of a study in a way that would appeal to the mainstream media. Debunking the “Bitcoiners are Psychopaths” study.

Fry Electronics Team

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