The Light Triad: Psychologists Outline the Personality Traits of Everyday Saints

By Lacy Schley | April 5, 2019 10:15 am
(Credit: Melitas/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Melitas/Shutterstock)

If stories about psychopaths fascinate you, you might’ve heard of something called the dark triad. It’s a trio of traits that psychologists developed in the early 2000s to measure the more sinister aspects of human personality. Now, a team from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Hawai’i-West O’ahu has finally crafted a counterpart test of the so-called light triad traits.

Dark Vs. Light

Given the human tendency toward morbid curiosity, it’s no surprise we’ve got a test for the most chilling traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.

(Credit: Discover)

(Credit: Discover)

People who score high on narcissism tend to be more self-absorbed and entitled; those who test high on Machiavellianism are more likely to be manipulative and deceitful in order to get their way; people who skew toward psychopathy are less likely to be able to empathize or feel guilt. (Though in this context, psychopathy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a psychopath by clinical standards — there’s a separate test for that. You can read more about it, and the man who developed it, here.)

Like any other personality trait, they’re not black or white — they exist on a spectrum. And in recent years, the nature of humans’ good side has been getting some attention, too. More and more studies are investigating things like generosity, altruism and empathy. But most of the work on this human nature spectrum has only been concerned with one end or the other, according to the authors of the study, published in Frontiers in Psychology. “What is missing in the field, we believe, are empirical investigations that include measures of the dark side and measures of the light side,” they write in their paper.

(Credit: Discover)

(Credit: Discover)

So the team, led by Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at Barnard College in New York, decided to do something about it. They developed what they call the light triad scale (LTS). It consists of 12 different questions — with answers presented as a scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” — meant to suss out where people stand on three positive traits: Kantianism, Humanism and Faith in Humanity. Those who score high on Kantianism are more likely to see a person as a person, not as a means to an end; participants who test high on humanism are more likely to value someone else’s dignity and worth; and people who see higher scores for Faith in Humanity tend to think that humans are basically good.

In a series of experiments, Kaufman, then at the University of Pennsylvania, and his team tested the LTS’s validity and reliability. (If it measured what it was supposed to and how consistent the results were for the same person, respectively). The team also made sure that the LTS wasn’t simply an inversion of the dark triad test. That is, they didn’t want to just reverse the coding of the words the dark triad test uses. (For instance, switching “I am a good person” to “I am not a good person.”) They wanted to make sure they were focusing on characteristics that were conceptually opposite from the ones the dark triad test homes in on. (For example, switching “I am a good person” to “I am a bad person.”)

Painting a Portrait

After having more than 1,500 people take the LTS, as well as a slew of other personality tests (including ones that measured dark triad traits) the team came away with some interesting insights.

In addition to being both reliable and valid, it seems the LTS isn’t just an inversion of the dark triad test — it does actually measure different characteristics. “The absence of darkness does not necessarily indicate the presence of light,” the authors write in their paper, “… there appears to be some degree of independence between the Light and Dark Triad, leaving room for people to have a mix of both light and dark traits.”

Kaufman and his team also constructed what they call “portraits of the light vs. dark triad.” Participants who scored high on light triad traits tended to be older, female and have experienced less unpredictability in their childhoods. They also tended to report higher levels of: religiosity, spirituality, life satisfaction, acceptance of others, belief that they and others were good, compassion, empathy, openness to experience and conscientiousness.

Meanwhile, people who scored higher on dark triad traits were more likely to be younger, male and more motivated by power, achievement, and superficial sex and relationships. They also tended to be less compassionate, agreeable, empathetic, satisfied with their lives and likely to believe they and others were good.

Laying a Foundation

Though they’re compelling results, the authors emphasize that they intend for the LTS to be a first draft and encourage other researchers to build on this starting point.

To sate your appetite in the meantime, you can take the test yourself. Let us know how you score in the comments below.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology
  • Jonipoju

    Definetly in the middle of the Spectrum or like the Pinkfloyd Album covers where White mixes with Black to become all the colors.

    • TeddyOrwell

      I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Dark Side of the Moon cover. All the colors are contained in the beam of white light. It is the prism that refracts the light, not the darkness. Darkness would just create different shades of color.

      • Dona Clark

        I seriously love these comments. :)

  • Miguel Vilhena

    Interesting hypothesis.

  • romeVIHARO

    We probably all have these traits (both dark and “light”) and some traits get repressed (either nature or nurture) and some do not.

    • Joseph Finkelstein

      There is no ‘we’ here, each culture has varying degrees of these traits. In some communities, like Amish and such, the ‘dark triad’ is almost nonexistent. In some other cultures such as American Luciferianism (the worship of oneself and scientific knowledge) the LIGHT TRIAD is almost nonexistent.

    • Joseph Finkelstein

      There is no ‘we’ here, our cultures are separated by too much. What you mean is YOU probably have all of those traits.

      Amish people, on average, simply don’t deal with the dark triad – it’s eliminated from their culture and uprooted where it’s discovered.

      Luciferian people (most Americans who worship themselves and science) on average, simply don’t deal with the light triad – narcissism reigns supreme among the godless.

      • Rachel Lawlor

        Your pious is showing.

      • Rachel Lawlor

        Your blinded by religion is showing

      • indie

        The most narcissistic people I have ever met have been at least outwardly extremely religious. They have a couple of ways of using their “godliness” to excuse what they do. A) They believe what they are doing is right even if it harms others because they have rationalized it with their religious book -they believe the book backs them up. B) Once they have done to others what they do, they “pray” and get peace for themselves while not really being repentant for their actions. They think they are getting, in essence, a “Get out of jail free” card.

        • Linda Mann

          Religiousity correlates highly with authoritarianism.

        • Deanna Clark

          They are hypocrites, not religious…they believe in a magic formula instead of the slow, tedious uprooting of weakness that is in real faith.

        • Bev Mabry

          the most narcissistic people have to do whatever they can to look good, that’s why! and churches with a lot of very trusting people are great places for them to find victims.

      • Kevin McKinney

        Quite simply untrue. I’ve known quite a few atheists with a highly developed sense of ethics which they practiced as well as anyone–well-loved folks, and deservedly so. Of course, to be fair, they didn’t “worship themselves”.

        Perhaps you should get out more, Joseph.

      • InTheFastLane

        The “Godless” are honest with themselves… while the religious hide behind an imaginary figure.

    • Bev Mabry


  • Electronic Eric

    Imagine a world where a single species gains more dominance, success, energy, knowledge & power than any other species on its planet. It spreads across the lands like a plague, consuming everything and leaving trash in its wake.

    It does this for thousands of years, until there are very few resources left. After all this time, with all that power, the species could use its collective wisdom to improve the greater good of ALL life around it.

    But its not driven by compassion & love for anything else — except for itself. The greedy species instead continues making more copies of itself, again and again, all while giving constant pats on the back of love & re-assurance…to itself.

    • cjm69

      Well, there is an extent to which we are merely slaves to our genes’ imperative to multiply. That’s not necessarily a moral failing; it merely indicates that we’re biological creatures.

      • Ben Moore

        Or, as I often put it (and I imagine my dad’s generation doubling over with laughter at my phrasing) “what was man’s first unnatural act?”
        Now, let’s see if our genes can come up naturally with a few tricks to get us out of this mess! Looks as though we’ll have to continue until we come out the other end of the tunnel. If we turn back, we’ll soon enough enter the tunnel again.

    • RDSouth

      I’d like to share a revelation I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to another area, and you multiply, and you multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.

      • Prairie Populist

        That is patent nonsense; ask the hundreds of thousands of white-tailed deer that have to be culled every year from overpopulation. Or rats that become so endemic from overbreeding that they eat one another. Or trees in the upper canopy that over-spawn to the point they starve their soil of nitrogen. Pick almost any animal or plant you want, and you will see the strains they create on the ecosystem. We’re the only ones who have the ability, however, to actually try to turn back the damage we have created and not go into senescence and let death do the heavy lifting.

        Yours is a Noble Savage mentality applied to critters.

        • Kevin McKinney

          Yep. The difference with humans is that we have potential to self-regulate. Can we learn to do it consistently and wisely? If so, perhaps we have a future on this planet.

      • trent masters

        lol – okay Mr. Smith cool your jets. It was a movie.

      • OWilson

        If I believed that depressive nonsense, I would have offed myself years ago!

        The world is beautiful, with all it’s challenges, full of wonders, and if you have children that’s a hell of a way to feel about them!

        It’s the old saw that the Earth would be better off without humans.

        But good for what, exactly? :)

        To have to go through life with such a worldview, you are to be pitied!

        • trent masters

          He doesn’t think that. It is a quote from the Matrix. He is trolling.

        • Mike Richardson

          So what kind of worldview considers comments like this to represent a world that’s “beautiful” and “full of wonders”:

          “Maybe Pocohontas would support reparations for the poor white Europeans that were scalped, enslaved, raped and even ate, by her North American Indian forefathers?

          They’re making $billions from Casinos, cheap alcohol, and tobacco!


          Your comment from four days ago on the political blog, correct? Based on some of your rather prejudiced, partisan, and divisive statements like that one, I would expect you’d score rather high on the dark side scale. Remember, honesty with yourself and others is the path to the light side. :)

          • OWilson

            It’s the kind of worldview that allows one to laugh at and ridicule some of the moronic proposed policies of opportunistic politicians, rather than blindly accepting them at face value, because they believe they know what’s best!

            Political satire is a fine tradition in a free society. Mark well, the “Lol”

            As long as it is posted on the appropriate political blog, and not brought into a science blog! (Thank you Mikey! Lol)

            A sense of humor is essential to a healthy rational attitude to life, as opposed to the screaming pitchfork mob mentality that some see as the way to deal with a political difference.

            An example of which can be found in your accusations here on Discover Science blogs of me being a “closet fascist”, an “alcoholic” and “mental incompetent” who should be committed tp a “sanitarium”, by my “family” and “duped” wife, Accusations with I don’t recall were made in jest!

            The kind of worldview that allows me to laugh at you, Mikey!


          • Mike Richardson

            Your comment was indeed racist Wilson. And the “duped” wife thing is something for which I apologized, and you claimed to have accepted. Apparently another lie, since you continue to harp on it. Such venom, indeed. You are unfortunately incapable of seeing it on yourself, hypocrite.

          • OWilson

            Love ya too, Mikey! :)

      • Bev Mabry

        “your species” – ??!*!? that invalidates your entire comment

    • ChamomileTea

      What a horrible (and sad) way to think about yourself. We are meant to be here. We are meant to use the earth’s resources. We are meant to procreate. As is every other species, we are meant to be here until we go extinct (like 90% of the critters who have ever lived here.) Enjoy your brief blip of time on this planet and try to be kind to children and old people, You’ll feel better… We are not the enemy.

      • o Hikari o

        Ha ha ha. Its how he sees YOU. Not him/herself. Theres a difference between using resources and hurting the planet until pollution runs rampant and even sea creatures at the deepest parts of the ocean have been found to have plastic and other garbage embedded in their skin. There’s a difference between procreation and just spreading your legs to pop out kids who live in a world already full of suffering ones. He shows a high level of rational understanding of the planet and any evolved creature can tell there’s no malice or sadness in his words. He also never called anyone the enemy..thats something your own triggered subconscious pulled up because you know its true deep down in the dark behind your eyes. That humanity has been no darling to the earth and it is not okay. You take comfort in thinking this way because one day we’ll be ‘extinct’ too..A ha ha ha ha .Whatever helps you sleep at night. lol

        • ChamomileTea

          It’s self-hatred. Nothing more, nothing less. Nihilists are the dime-a-dozen “sheeple.” Calling all humanity “evil” is boring and lazy. Move towards the light. Your attempt at a derisive laugh is both amusing and delusional.

          • Yogi

            If people on a daily basis offered some little shred of proof they were good rather than evil, those of us capable of thinking and analyzing would be a lot more prone to be hopeful. Unfortunately, I lose count before 9 am of the number of truly evil individuals I see going about their business with impunity because we aren’t permitted to punish wrong-doing anymore.

          • o Hikari o

            This is hilarious. Nowhere did the poster say anyone was evil. And sheeple refers to the herd. The ones who just go along. The lights are on but nobody’s home. Which is a big portion of the world right now. Hollow. Not all, but a good portion. Your perception and opinions say a lot about where your head is at right now. The chains of duality are strong and you don’t seem to be operating outside of anything other than hasty generalizations; fallacies, and shallow feelings clouding rationale/logic and the acceptance of truth. Anything to even remotely cast a light on the very real shortcomings of humanity, you seem to shove under the umbrella of self hate and nihilism. It’s exaggeration on your part, and blatant ostrich syndrome. Just because you ignore something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that you won’t one day have to acknowledge it. ..I respect where you are in your consciousness and level of emotional understanding. My point is that Eric is not a human hater or nihilistic..he’s just stating the truth. It’s not something everyone can handle but the proof is in the pudding. I still believe in humanity for its potential and for those who do actual planetary good on a daily basis, but I’m not wearing rose colored glasses about its shortcomings.

    • o Hikari o

      Wise words. You’re going to trigger some sheeple with this. lol


      You would have to imagine it because hardly any of that is true.

    • John Smith

      All species are driven by the carnal survival instinct. They just act on it differently.

    • Margaret Costello

      Species don’t “gain” more dominance, success, knowledge etc. They are given it. Man is not only biological he is spiritual i.e. has an immaterial being (intellect and will). Darwinism is utter stupidity. The ancient Greeks discovered the immortality of man and his God given dominance over creatures, plant life and inorganic material. Granted it’s not a free pass to abuse this power but a responsibility to use and govern it wisely. God bless~

  • Real Jb

    the first 6 questions i did not get to answer because i did not see the question changed after the 1st. I kept hitting “strongly agree” and could not go back or reset the test to correctly answer those 1st 6 questions.

  • Bobby Kolev

    So it took them 1500 tests to reach the interesting finding that there’s room for traits between black and white…now THAT is what I call serious advance!

    To top it off, younger males who are more focused on career advances and success are – nearly shockingly! – also less prone to showing empathy and compassion.

    Gee, I do see why it costs so much to take PhD in psychology…once you do you have the privilege of bringing everyday knowledge to the masses as long as you find some new carrier for it.

    • pbrower2a

      The truly good person is anything but naive. It takes experience to determine that back-stabbing behavior is counterproductive. People learn that there is more to life than economic gain, sex, chemical highs, bureaucratic power, and material indulgence — or they don’t. At some point one faces the critical question of whether one can sacrifice those things for some higher purpose. .

      • Ben Moore

        I wish they sold that kind of knowledge in a bottle.

      • Bobby Kolev

        Color me skeptical.
        There is no agreed upon definition for a “truly good person” and there’s absolutely no proof that a good person – by probably every possible definition that doesn’t tie “good” and “naive” – can not be naive.
        And lots of people never have to face “the critical question” you describe, if only because lots of people manage to live their lives without having to think of sacrifices for a higher purpose.
        If there is a line of thought in your posts it just escapes me.
        No offense meant in any way, I have an issue with what s said and not with the poster.

  • Jesse Talbutt

    I couldn’t get beyond question #2 “I believe humans are basically good”. That’s epistemological nonsense – I mean, good compared to what? Bees? Turnips? If you aren’t religious there’s no answer to it.

    “I think humans are basically musically talented”. “I think humans are basically bad chess players”. “I think humans are basically fond of bebop”.

    • pbrower2a

      “Good” does not mean that they are patsies. “Good” means that they will reciprocate good with good if at all possible. One rules out that they will exploit others’ hardships and try to cheat them.

      Think of the antithesis of the Machiavellian exploiter, cheat, swindler, or shyster. Obviously there are people to avoid, like drug traffickers and sexual sadists. But on the whole, people with general trust in Humanity get a better deal in life than those who do not.


        That’s a problem for those who believe more regulation is the answer, isn’t it? They have no faith in humanity to do the right thing so everybody has to suffer.

        • OWilson

          The real problem are those who seek to regulate “others” :)

        • Lance Dietrich

          if only they actually WOULD do the right thing in more cases maybe the regulations would be unnecessary, personally there are a number of regs i hate but here we are dealing with them because people prove them needed every day.

        • cmcle

          It’s both possible and reasonable to have faith in humanity in general, yet to acknowledge that a small percentage of people are unworthy of such faith.

          People who see the need for regulation realize there are people who are high on dark triad traits who will exploit other people, and there’s plenty of evidence to support their beliefs. They also realize dark triad people gravitate toward positions of financial and political power as a means of maximizing their exploitation.

          Regulation is a means to limit the harm they can do.

          • Adam

            But that’s not to say that all people chasing after dollars are bad, right? Some people see it as a means of being able to do more good. If I have more money, I can make more money, and there for share more money, or have the power to invest in projects that are actually doing good in the world.

          • cmcle

            Adam — I totally agree. It’s all a matter of proportion. I believe most people are mostly good most of the time. Estimates of the percentage of sociopaths and psychopaths in the U.S. population range from 1-4 percent. In positions of great power, the percent is significantly higher, but still a small minority.

        • pbrower2a

          Good regulation might take opportunities away from evil-doers and can leave the rest alone.

        • Nick

          The deregulation of the 1980’s (Reagan’s baby) unleashed corporations to run roughshod over humanity and nature, over clean drinking water, clean air — our two primary needs. So you tell me what you mean by deregulation. Cuz down on the personal level I couldn’t agree more. But there again we should be specific cuz while most is bad, surely there’s an exception.

    • Kevin McKinney

      There are other ways to parse this besides comparison with some other species.

      For instance, “humans are basically good” might be interpreted to mean that “the probability density function of individual human morality is asymmetrically skewed toward the ‘good’ pole.” (In other words, *most* humans obey human moral norms *most* of the time.) Agree or disagree, it is still a self-consistent proposition.

    • senoy

      The light triad is completely religious in nature (if we define religious as the opposite of materialist.) Kantianism essentially relies on a cultural Christianity to invent its categorical imperatives-it doesn’t have to, but it obviously does. Humanism relies on an assertion that humanity has some sort of inherent value. Again, this is simply cultural Christianity. There is no materialist reason that humans are more valuable than pebbles on a beach. And Faith in Humanity, you’ve already discussed.

    • Heath Howard

      It isn’t meant to be an objective factual statement that you can back up with evidence. It’s YOUR perspective on people.

    • disigny

      Jesse T: It is Obvious “compared to what”: compared to other conscious beings. Babies know that already. Why do YOU argure about it?

    • Bev Mabry

      I see your point, and you’re funny! Most people know what basic human ‘goodness’ is and I bet you do too. You’re only in trouble if you overthink it! Don’t do that! :)

  • icanhazyumyum

    “Superficial sex”

    ..why somehow I associate these words with “mostly female” these days..?

    • Gs Morris

      The times they are a’changing. It seems to be trending that way, but I’m old …

      • John Tarkany

        The times are a’ changing but don’t change with them. Be your true self.

        another old guy

  • Michael Dowd

    I scored 85.42% on the LTS. Not sure what this means as my guess is that others would not rank me this high.

    • Yogi

      That’s a good point. Whenever I see these tests, and think of how I would answer them, so much depends on not just a specific situation but what else has happened to me and the world at that particular time. I wonder what psychologists would say to this, whether there is an explanation or a justification for why the test still works.

      • Michael Dowd

        Good questions. I don’t know either.

    • Ben Moore

      Am I the only one who feels able to “game” these tests somewhat? Many years ago at a now-long-defunct amusement park I put a quarter in a machine and got a one-word personality assessment I found more haunting than any multiple-choice test since then.

      • Michael Dowd

        Yes, easy to game. That’s why you could ask your friend to rate you. But that could be a game too. I prefer the test would be based on responses to real world situations.

        • Bev Mabry

          you could invent that test

          • Michael Dowd

            Unfortunately my work would be unacceptable as I don’t have the proper credentials.

      • Katrina Walker

        Yes… plus the fact that with the possible exception of those struggling with deep depression, “everyone is the hero of their own story.”

  • RDSouth

    These extremes are simple, like convergence to a point at the poles. Great complexity is found when you don’t purify anything. Both extremes are very individualistic, they just prioritize the individuality of the self or the other. Is a penchant for blindly caring about individuals for themselves necessarily better than an ability to see all as a means to the collective good?

  • jdlech

    I am cursed with an equal perspective of both light and dark. I understand both, recognize both possible routs in my own nature, and can choose either path. But each bring their own torment – knowing both are equally true of human nature.

  • Gs Morris

    There is, it seems to me, a deal of difference between how one acts, and how one feels — sometimes acting in contravention to one’s feelings on the basis of how one feels they should act according to their moral/ethical beliefs. Is this a valid distinction (I think yes), and is it accounted for in the survey?

  • zpizaman

    When the rich man called Jesus good, Jesus quickly pointed out that only God is good

    • QuadL

      Was Jesus being Humble? Or was he trying to get the man to discover the divine within Jesus and acknowledge it? If Jesus was both fully God and fully a man at that time then I would beg the question,” what was His motive for giving such an answer?”

  • William Shuck

    I’m a performer and a painter. I seek attention and approval. According to this test that makes me narcissistic and Machiavellian. Anyone who works in the business world has to manipulate people to get what they want, especially in sales. I have issues with this test.

    • Deanna Clark

      My 71 year old husband was a classical violinist…only now is he beginning to acknowledge the price of his career on his wife and children. But you should have heard him play!!!

  • sml

    It’s interesting that they consider believing basically all people are good is a positive trait. That belief flies in the face of reality. People have to be trained, nurtured, challenged, and have to strive to be good (and, define good). We’re born almost completely self-centered. Can you imagine a toddler with the strength of a grown man? We’d all be dead. No, we aren’t basically good. But we are inherently worthwhile.

    • Yogi

      I agree up until your last sentence. Huge numbers of people on this planet prove on a daily basis they are not worthy of existence. One cannot argue in any moral realm that pedophiles, child molesters, wife-beaters, gang members, and murderers are deserving of any of the precious resources left on our Earth. Time to rid ourselves of the trash and see what beauty can actually thrive here when it’s out from under their curse.

      • Ben Moore

        Let’s equate the goodness of a person with the height of a fruit in a tree. Of course we should whack the worst fruit off the bottom of the tree and smash it. But how far up the tree do we go? Regarding thee and me, I’m sure you’re floating gravity-free above the tree, but I’m a bit worried about me.

        I’m going to toss you this essential scrap, because many
        moralists won’t, and that’s where they fail in a de-facto world: If those who sin against us deserve forgiveness
        for following their instincts down twisted and horrific paths, then we too deserve forgiveness for the paths along which we are led by our instinct for revenge. That’s how history has gone and probably will go. But it doesn’t mean we can’t keep an eye out for ways to beat the game into which it appears we’ve been thrown
        before we were old enough to say “no thanks.”

        Putting it in more down-to-earth terms: execute the guilty (if they are!) but as you do so, pause to contemplate their entire route to the gallows, chair or chamber – starting from the womb.

        • Deanna Clark

          I think Yogi was judging people for their impersonal utilitarian value….like Nazis and others do.

        • Crescentia Volz

          Even the worst fruit at the bottom, when smashed properly, and treated with care, can become enjoyable and intoxicating. (Guess who’s an
          older female with high levels of: religiosity,
          spirituality, life satisfaction, acceptance of others, belief that they
          and others were good, compassion, empathy, openness to experience and
          conscientiousness? XD [They didn’t say I had to be humble! lol])

      • Patrick Wilson

        I am sorry, but if you really think that every person in a gang, or every person who has hit their wife, or every person that has killed someone else even, is completely worthless; please never let you get into a position of power, because you are an idiot!

        • QuadL

          I would not say he is an idiot. He would be an idealist. Someone who views things in a way not related to reality but to a self imposed standard that does not allow for exceptions. Remember the Les Miserable character who was the constable chase Jon Val-John, the main protagonist? He saw ALL criminals as evil and worthy of being locked away forever. Then he saw a person saved by Jon Val-John and could never reconcile this with his outlook on life. A truly sad way of living. But it’s not the example of a criminal changing his life for the better, it’s an example of Yogi, and to a lesser extent even Ben. I can verifiablely say I am not the same man I was 20 or even 15 years ago. People can change radically though it’s not a common occurrence, rare even.

      • Patrick Wilson

        And by the way, one could EASILY argue in the realm of morality that MANY members of gangs are worthwhile human beings together with MANY people who may have struck their spouse. Your comment is SUPER LAME and uneducated!

      • Deanna Clark

        But people repent and change…some went through a trash time, woke up and were sorry, and became saints. Ever heard of Augustine of Hippo and many other genuine saints?

      • Patrick Bertlein

        You call yourself a yogi, but you fail to see the beauty in all things, even the horrific. I don’t think you have actually read a lot about yogis to be honest.

    • CYP

      Suppose we consider fairness – treating others and expecting to be treated equally – as a way to measure “goodness”. I work with toddlers, and most of them, most of the time, care about fairness. They want to see themselves as a fair (“good”) person, and so you can point out when they are being unfair and help them give up the ball or share the toy. Of course there are exceptions – children who intentionally provoke others or take things to get a reaction, or even a very small number who don’t care about others’ reactions – but that they are the exception underlines the rule.

    • disigny

      sml: You are overlooking the Fact that in modern western society, we are trained to be “Bad”. (I.e. endlessly Selfish). Babies are a more valid measure of Human Nature, before it is corrupted by “Culture”.

      • LAPhil

        I think you have it backwards. Human beings are born totally selfish and have to be taught proper social values and civil behavior before they develop any redeeming or “good” behavior patterns and instincts.

        • Patrick Bertlein

          If you mean selfish in the sense of doing what is inherently positive for their own well being, yes. The punchline here is that doing what is best for your own well being is often also what is best for other beings as well. So altruism IS in fact inherent in humanity, but that altruism is also self serving.

          • JL

            I’m pretty sure a soldier jumping on a grenade to save others isn’t being self serving.

        • Bartholemew Mitosis

          Well…I guess we know where you sit on the “Faith in Humanity” scale.

          • LAPhil

            Well I guess some of us just aren’t as naive as others.

        • Bev Mabry

          the ‘selfishness’ of a baby is an entirely different thing from the selfishness of say, a grown man, since by their nature, babies are 100% dependent on others for their very life. Your argument is completely invalid, if only because of this one fact.

    • Chris Godwin

      You made a jump from a basal faith in humanity to believing all people are good. ‘Faith in humanity’ is multi-valent. So you can’t take what it means to you, and apply it to others. Since no one else is saying making the leap you are, your comment is a strawman argument and you may not realize it.

    • John Tarkany

      I agree: who is able to say what is absolutely good or bad? Not me or anyone else.

      Humans are a product of evolution, our DNA includes the tools for survival through competition, just like all other species. We are influenced by our environment. So we are just who we are, individuals unique and gifted and flawed,
      but not good or bad. I think that mother Teresa is a worthwhile example of how to live with humility, drive, and generosity. Possibly “goodness” or virtue? We are on this amazing Planet to take care of each other. We are the first species to be able to contemplate the purpose of our own existence: LOVE

    • Shana Kile

      That’s the preliminary philosophical question. Are humans naturally good or bad? The belief colors every aspect of your life and probably seems obvious to you, in spite of there being vast numbers who think otherwise.


    It’s funny and kinda sick how fractured some people’s consistency can be. In order to support some agenda they will ignore previous denials of “absolute truth leading to morality”. Then, when it suits them and their worldview, turn right back around and make inconsistent claims to try and justify their nihilism. I guess narcissistic people who don’t believe in anything but festering hatred can do that.

    • John Tarkany

      No such thing as absolute Truth!

      • shoe chew

        Are you absolutely sure?

  • Katy Sunderland

    I scored higher on narcissism than expected, but mostly light side! I personally feel a part of my narcissism score is actually just healthy self-image, but I suppose it’s always worth more introspection.

    • Bev Mabry

      there are a lot of narcissistic trends going on in American culture the last decade and you look young. I have 2 young friends who post selfies and cheerleader quotes on Facebook – about themselves – almost daily – and to the exclusion of anything else. Boy, do they smack of Narcissism. One great thing is that people tend to become more of who they really are as opposed to what culture wants them to be as they get older. My 25-ish niece told me once I was not “cool” – and told her I already proved I could be “cool” before she grew up and I don’t have to keep proving it.

  • John Smith

    #FakeScience. This is mostly untrue and un proven. I have been in the Psychology field almost 50 years. I am a Sociologist.

  • thedude

    It annoys me when people impose meta-ethics and existentialism to “invalidate” the value of such things. If the questions are meaningless, they should also not meaningfully predict anything, including patterns in other responses. Else the questions are at least meaningful relative to each other and/or other concepts, whether statistically, psychologically, or culturally. Hypothetically, perhaps all the statistical patterns here are indeed spurious and meaningless, but a scientific standard says evidence must support that hypothesis, and that is not currently the case.

  • Freedom

    My dog jumped on me and I answered 1 question wrong – completely wrong. A 5 when I was aiming for a 1. There was no back button. FRUSTRATING.

    • Ben Moore


      • QuadL

        maybe a not fully thought out design flaw?

  • Heather O’Meara

    I live almost entirely in the light. I also live in financial poverty because the whole idea of ‘networking’ – using relationships to advantage – just feels wrong to me.

    • albert

      you’re doing it wrong

    • pbrower2a

      Networking is fine so long as you do not cheat others. It is a good way to seek new employment.

    • Bev Mabry

      I get that. I’ve known people who make a lot of “contacts” and are friendly with the only purpose of “networking.” You can, however, have social contacts without having the purpose of using them.

  • Heath Howard

    The problem with this test, is that the more “Light” you have in you, the higher your standards will be and you will give yourself a lower score. I bet Mother Teresa, would have scored herself very low on some of these questions. Whereas I’ve known some terrible people who think they are very loving and forgiving.

    • Biggus Disqus

      Mother Teresa is a bad example because she was a Narcissist with sociopathic tendencies. She was not example of “good.” Far from it, actually. Very far.

      • Laurie Mitchener

        I would really like to hear your reasons why a woman who devoted her entire life to service of sick poor lepers in India that no one would even go near (and vowed to be poor herself and possess nothing) was a narcissist and not an example of good. That is one bold statement that really deserves an answer and backup.

        • OWilson

          Mother Teresa made Gallup’s Most Admired Women 4 times against perpetual winner Hillary (22).

          It say’s something about your society.

          And the “judgements” expressed here! :)

          • Biggus Disqus

            So what? She’s no saint at all (see the link I finally managed to post) and propaganda obviously still works well. Same as it ever was.

        • Biggus Disqus

          Here’s a good place to start (again; I posted this 3 times before it went through): https://slate[DOT]com/news-and-politics/2003/10/the-fanatic-fraudulent-mother-teresa.html

          Change the [DOT] to a . to make it work as links are automatically sent into moderation.

  • Josh Dominski

    The psychological wing of the western medicine death and sickness industrial complex, is psychopathic in its very nature / core. Big pharma kills more people than all other drugs combined. Prescribing anything to a human that may harm them, goes against the hippocritic oath. They should all be locked up. Humans are not born, they are made. Humanity’s psychopathic owner’s motto is “order out of chaos”. Problem Reaction Solution. They create the chaos, wait for a reaction, and then implement the psychopathy they had already pre-planned. The evil DSM has a luncheon where these psychopaths literally vote on which made up illnesses will go into this handbook from hell, each year. The troops you cheer on, go into Afghanistan, on israeli orders, seizes the poppy fields, and BOOM….a worldwide heroin epidemic. Wake up!

  • albert

    Dark Light = Democrats post 2016

  • ICanFixItLater

    i think there should be a version for neuroatypicals. it asks about mental illness but not about non-illness diagnoses like autism.

  • Katheryn Holiman Hasara

    I’m truly impressed with the thoughtful comments here. To the political wacko who went ape with “Afghanistan and the Israelis” comment: what the heck?! And to the people who are so critical of religion: here, too, is a broad spectrum of concept, believe, and behavior. Everyone sees life through his/her own lense.

  • Nick

    Maybe it’s just my eyes, but there seems to be a redundancy in the Light Triad categories. I would substitute out either Humanism or Faith in Humanity for …. I dunno, something about the interconnectedness of all life, however that can be concisely summed. I mean that could be a wee bit of darkness slipping into the Light Triad, as it does seem we’re too human-centric (as much as we profess love for our cats’n dogs et al) just like the psychopaths are too self absorbed and care not a real wit for other humans.

    Then unlike the writer of this article I dont believe there is a “human tendency towards morbid curiosity”. That’s inculcated in us. The natural tendency of life should be towards living. If we weren’t served up steady doses of death that’s “the news” & thru Hollywood/Burbank & even Madison Avenue I believe we’d be one big fertility cult.

    • pbrower2a

      Faith in humanity could be a faith that people will find an anti-humanist religious doctrine or accept a hierarchical economic order.

      • Nick

        Huh? Would you please restate in other words, or just edit these, if this system allows for that? Thanks cuz i cant respond to what i dont understand. I just dont see how the second part of your sentence relates to the first. Or how relates to what i said

      • Nick

        Now I get it: you’re saying it’s overbroad, cuz the human faithful have definitely bought, hook line and sinker both of those. In politics that hierarchical economic order is called fascism & anti-humanist religious doctrines abound, or they’ve all been bent into that horrid shape

  • MontyJohnston

    The so-called light triad doesn’t rule out codependence; that is, “helping” others so the abilities of the “helped” atrophy, all because the “helper,” suffering from unhealed self-hate, wants help.

    (I’m a liberal. This isn’t a conservative excuse not to actually help people.)

    Kant, too: “I think, therefore I am:” This is egotism, not presence. (I experience my presence, therefore I am.) Abstract Confucian hierarchical morality comes from it more than actual human contact.

    So one can think of oneself as all Light Triad and not be it.

    • MontyJohnston

      But dark triad is real and describes Trump.

    • disqus_C7pGPtL1l0

      Kant did not say “I think, therefore I am:” that was Descartes…

      • MontyJohnston

        You’re right.

  • Phil Spector

    They should have a confirm answer button, to ensure the results are correct. There were a couple questions I clicked on and didn’t realize I had clicked on a button without seeing the question. I tried to go back to retake the test after the fourth question to start over, so I closed the window, and clicked on the link to restart the test. However it brought me back to the same question and I had to finish the survey not knowing the question or how the answer related to the question asked. Can’t say that the results they gave were acurate, but ti is what it is. Cool concept nontheless!

  • Melissa Novak

    Golden Rule – We all have basic needs which we become aware of early in Life…safety, food, water, shelter, Love. (Hopefully our needs are not tainted by trauma which can re-wire the brain.) Let’s just imagine what the World would be like if everyone lived by the Golden Rule? Yeah Baby!!!

  • Mathew G. Smith

    A lot of these are so vague I could honestly justify any answer depending on how the question is interpreted. They’re all comparative, but with no reference specified. Am I comparing to an ideal? What I see as average? My own self image? What?

  • Patrick Bertlein

    14% light, thought it would be more in the dark, now i have to deal with this identity crisis thanks test.

    I wonder what people generally are, that would be helpful. Seems pretty obvious a norm exists somewhere, my guess its around 15% on both sides.

  • Bella_Fantasia

    Those of us who have looked deep into the darkness and have seen the wretchedness visited upon innocents will be cynical. However, anyone who strives to promote lighting up the darkness and having empathy as well as supporting the need for protection of innocence harmed can be imbued with Light, understanding it’s preciousness. A force of light is the most powerful coming from a place threatened by darkness.

    Some traumatized and seriously damaged people can and do behave very badly, and to say they’re mostly ‘good’ is pure Pollyanna denial. We can have empathy for their damaged spirits, but we cannot condone the hurt they cause others.

    This test needs work. It seems doubtful it will capture the most powerful demonstration of Light if some seemingly negative (dark) traits are counted against a person, leaving a ‘middle of the road’ result that is irrelevant.

  • JL

    “Those who score high on Kantianism are more likely to see a person as a person, not as a means to an end”

    That doesn’t even make sense when you look at Kant’s philosophy of viewing all individuals as rational, and that all rational actions are based upon maxims. Viewing every person as a means to an end isn’t any more or less applicable as a universal maxim than seeing a person as a person.

  • Frederic

    Two world wars and the shoa – im a History teacher in Europe which falls back to the same national and fascist narrative (and actions) which made them loose everything already – no lessons learned of History – humans are good? Is good good eough?

  • KaseetaKen

    Jesus of Nazareth would not have scored well on his faith in humanity.

    “But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature” (Jn 2:24 NLT).

  • Albot

    I’m noticing a lot of comments by people who are surprised that “faith in humanity” is considered a positive trait…

    For what it’s worth, I tend to assume the best about people, and I happen to get along with practically everyone…

    One of the best people I’ve met passed away recently in his 80s. At his funeral, one comment that came up again and again was that he always saw the good in people…

  • Matthew

    Human’s are born realists, and develop the ability to think beyond what they see usually around 4 years old. It is not selfishness, but ignorance that prevents children from considering others. Perhaps there’s good reason too–if an infant was empathetic, wouldn’t it perhaps know its mother was tired and perhaps famished, and thus wouldn’t drink the milk from her breast and die?

    And what is good (or bad), is relative and therefore subjective. Human’s aren’t born good or bad, but are merely defined this way. A baby with no concept of relativity, co-existence and the like is just a child doing the best they can with what they got. An adult, is also doing the best they can with their circumstances. Nobody does something that they think is the wrong thing to do.


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