Scientists have discovered a new personality type that they call the “most deadly.”

Scientists have discovered a new “hazardous” personality trait known as “dark empathy” – but do you have it?

According to new research, people with negative personality traits like narcissism can nonetheless have high levels of cognitive and affective empathy.

These folks are referred to as “dark empaths” in the study, which was just published in Personality and Individual Differences.

Empathy is divided into three types: cognitive, which is defined as an intellectual understanding of another person’s feelings without experiencing them; affective, which is defined as experiencing another person’s emotions as your own; and compassionate, which is a combination of cognitive and emotional empathy.

Individuals are classified as dark empaths if they have cognitive and/or affective empathy, as well as the “dark triad” – a term that refers to three dark personality traits.

Traditionally, researchers have found that those with darker characteristics are often associated with a lack of empathy.

While the new data, which the researchers acquired from a sample of 1,000 people, undoubtedly supports that assumption, it also suggests that the dark empath group has a strong presence.

“As we expected, we discovered a conventional dark triad group with low empathy ratings” (about 13 percent of the sample). “We also discovered a group with low dark traits and high levels of empathy (approximately 33 percent were empaths) and a group with lower to medium levels across all traits (about 34 percent were ‘typicals’),” the study’s authors noted.

“However, the ‘dark empaths,’ a fourth group of people, was clearly visible. They scored higher on dark qualities as well as empathy (about 20 percent of our sample). Surprisingly, the later group performed better on both tests.

The scientists admitted that the dark empaths’ strong scores in the cognitive and emotional empathy portions did not surprise them.

“This makes sense in a way,” they added, “since to control others for your own gain — or even to relish the suffering of others,” they explained.

The dark empaths were also shown to be more indirectly hostile than typicals and empaths, according to the study.

While empathy reduced the group’s violence, it did not totally remove it.

The group also looked to have a conscience and may even loathe their dark side, with the negative emotions being a reaction to their self-loathing, according to the researchers.

The new findings are shining light on persons who have dark triad traits and challenging clinical psychologists to reconsider empathy.

“A dark empath may actually be more dangerous than a more cold and unfeeling dark triad type,” Ramani Durvasula, PhD, a clinical psychologist, told PsychCentral. “The so-called dark empath might draw you in closer — and wreak more harm as a result.”

“The closer you get to someone, the more likely you are to hurt them,” Durvasula continued.

This piece was originally published in the Sun and is reprinted with permission here.

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