Dark triad-consumer behavior relationship: the mediating role of consumer self-confidence and aggressive interpersonal orientation

James Robert Blair, Eastern Kentucky University
Prachi Gala, Kennesaw State University
Matthew Lunde, Pittsburg State University


Purpose: This study aims to investigate the consumer behavior of the Dark Triad (DT) personality traits. It investigates the sequential mediating role of consumer self-confidence and aggressive interpersonal orientation in the relationship between the DT personality traits (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism) and consumer behavior. Design/methodology/approach: Using identity theory as a theoretical framework, the authors develop and assess a model linking the DT personality traits to consumer behavior, using two products: a watch and restaurant menu items, in different experimental settings. Findings: Results from the two studies that surveyed consumers show that individuals with the DT personality traits have a positive significance of consumers’ attitudes, intent to recommend to others and purchase intentions, regardless of hedonic or utilitarian products. Further, consumer self-confidence mediates the DT–consumer behavior relationship, and this relationship is sequentially mediated by aggressive interpersonal orientation of the consumer. Research limitations/implications: Consumer behavior researchers and marketing managers will have a better understanding of who DT consumers are and the variables associated with their consumption attitudes and intentions. This understanding allows marketers to focus on promotions to boost consumer self-confidence and aggressive interpersonal orientation of these DT consumers, which will increase their purchase intentions. Future researchers could replicate the results beyond an experimental design to improve the external validity of the findings, among other future research opportunities. Originality/value: Our findings highlight the underlying reasons behind dark triad consumption behaviors. This furthers our understanding of dark triad consumers using identity theory as our theoretical framework.