From D-factor to prosocial beliefs
The D-Factor, also known as the Dark Factor of Personality (D), is the following deep-seated belief held by some individuals: in the world we live in, it is justified and necessary to promote one's self-interest at the expense of the interests of others.” This D-factor turns out to be a common factor underlying all sorts of negative traits (read more). It has been researched in relation to various social and political phenomena, such as conspiracy theories, populism and responses to global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Examples of expressions that indicate the D-factor mindset
Of course, we can't look into other people's heads. But the D-factor belief can occasionally be seen in how people talk. Here are some examples of expressions that may indicate this D-factor mindset:
- “As long as I get what I want, I don't care who has to suffer for it.”
- “Why should I be concerned about the environment? I only live once and I want to enjoy it.”
- “I am willing to disadvantage my own compatriots if it means that my own ethnic group gets more advantage.”
- “Life is a competition and you have to get to the top at all costs.”
- “I have nothing to do with others, I just have to do what is best for myself.”
- “If I don't do it, someone else will and I miss out on the benefits.”
- “Why should I waste my time and energy on others if I get nothing in return?”
- “Commercial companies simply have to mislead people.”
- "I don't feel sorry for people who aren't smart enough to stand up for themselves."
- “If I can take advantage of someone's weakness, I certainly will.”
But society as a whole can also suffer from this kind of thinking. Some new studies shed an interesting light on this.
The shared basis of populism and conspiracy thinkingThielmann & Hilbig (2023) showed that populism and conspiracy thinking share a common core, which is rooted in an all-encompassing dispositional distrust. This core is closely linked to the D-factor, which includes negative tendencies such as cynicism, hostile and competitive social worldviews, and a decreased tendency toward trust. Their research shows that boosting trust can simultaneously address both populism and belief in conspiracy theories.
The influence of the D-factor on vaccination refusal and communicationRudloff, Hutmacher & Appel (2023) found that post-truth epistemic beliefs rooted in the D-factor were associated with increased reluctance to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They found that individuals who deliberately ignore stronger arguments are less willing to get vaccinated. In addition, post-truth epistemic beliefs are a barrier to effective and rational communication.
Summary: the role of the D-factor in social and political phenomenaThe D-factor plays an important role in understanding various social and political phenomena. Investigating this deeply held belief contributes to our understanding of how aversive personality traits such as cynicism, self-centeredness, and distrust influence populism, conspiracy ideas, and responses to global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Fostering trust and addressing these beliefs can be essential to promoting the well-being of society, enhancing rational communication, and combating the negative consequences of the D-factor.
The importance of promoting prosocial beliefsThe positive opposite of the D-factor is that it is important to consider the interests of others in addition to your self-interest and to act in a way that creates a win-win situation where everyone can benefit. This is also referred to as a pro-social belief, where the well-being of others is as important as one's own well-being.
Cultivate prosociality in upbringing, education, work and societyIt is very important to stimulate prosocial beliefs in upbringing, education, work and society. Promoting belief in the value of cooperation, empathy, altruism and community spirit can help reduce the negative effects of the D-factor and promote well-being and rational communication.
Some ways to do this include emphasizing the benefits of working together and discussing the importance of supporting others. In addition, we can encourage the rewarding of prosocial behavior and the creation of social norms that encourage prosocial behavior. By promoting prosocial beliefs and behaviors we can contribute to a healthier, more connected and prosperous society.