Meaningless and weak: Debunking the ‘Bitcoiners are psychopaths’ study

A University of Otago psychology expert criticized a study that claimed psychopaths and other ‘Dark Tetrad” personality traits are attracted to crypto. It showed very weak correlation, which was criticized for being “meaningless”.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), who are primarily in marketing and advertising, surveyed 566 people about their views on crypto. They then correlated the results to four personality traits: narcissism and psychopathy.

The U.S. Sun first shared the findings and they were widely syndicated by mainstream media. The New York Post headline read “Bitcoin lovers are psychopaths who don’t care about anybody” and Salon stated that “Impulsive Psychopaths like Crypto”

Bitcoin fans are psychopaths who don’t care about anyone, study shows
— April 12, 2022, New York Post (@nypost).

Cointelegraph was contacted by Professor Martin Sellbom, a psychologist at The University of Otago who is an international expert in personality disorders and personality assessment. He criticized the study’s results as meaningless.

“The effects they report, such as the strength of relationships among these so-called “dark tetrad” traits and attitudes and intentions to buy cryptocurrency, are very weak and meaningless in my opinion.”

Participants were assessed using the widely-used Short Dark Triad (SD-3 personality test), which rates the traits psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism with a maximum score 5

The study results showed that participants’ scores for psychopathy, narcissism and other psychometric assessments were lower than the average as determined by OpenPsychometrics. Participants scored 2% lower than the average for psychopathy, 16.7% less for narcissism and 3.6% higher for Machievellism.

Professor Sellbom however stated that this research was “uninformative” about psychopathy or narcissism.

“The measurements used in this literature don’t capture the full manifestations these disorders.”

In an article published in The Conversation, the authors elaborated on their findings. They stated that crypto narcissists are motivated by their “great faith in the future” and “confidence in their own lives.”

Related: Crypto critics: Is FUD ever useful?

Cryptocurrency was a popular choice for psychopaths, who “fear missing out on the investing rewards that others are experiencing.” Machiavellians also like crypto because they distrust government agencies and politicians.

Others, such as positivity and belief in conspiracy theories, were also considered traits that “might link the dark tetrad judgments about crypto”.

Only 26% of respondents had cryptocurrency and nearly 64% indicated they would be interested in investing.

Sellbom stated that the method to link traits like FOMO and psychopathy was flawed because it involved collecting two samples of the level of interest in crypto as well as psychometric results from one person. The researchers’ conclusions “cannot be supported in their simple manner.”

“Although we are seeing the same results, I would interpret the relationship between dark traits and attitudes towards and purchasing intention of cryptocurrency as weak. It is unlikely that these traits can provide much understanding for those who engage in buying cryptocurrency.

The researchers stated that they weren’t trying to suggest that Bitcoiners were psychopaths in their report. This is contrary to what some media outlets have claimed.

“We don’t suggest that all crypto buyers have Dark Tetrad traits. We are instead studying a small group of crypto enthusiasts who have these traits.

The researchers acknowledged the limitations of their research and stated that although they did not gauge participant interest in investing, it was possible to establish a control variable by measuring participants’ intention to engage in such investments.

Professor Sellbom stated that many experts in psychopathy and narcissism doubt this so-called dark personality literature. “The reason the researchers aren’t really studying personality disorders is because they are far more complex than the measures would suggest.”

The study’s authors are Dr. Di Wang, Senior Lecturer at QUT School of Advertising and Marketing, Brett Martin, Professor of Marketing QUT, and Dr. Brett Martin, Professor of Marketing QUT. Jun Yao is Senior Lecturer in Marketing Macquarie University. Carolyn Strong is Professor of Marketing and Strategy Cardiff University. Polymeros Chrysochou is Professor of Marketing Aarhus University.

It is possible that the authors have a background in advertising and marketing, so they could understand how to present the results of a study to appeal to mass media.

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Eileen Wilson

Eileen Wilson –Technology and Energy My Name is Eileen Wilson with more than 5 years of experience in the Stock market industry, I am energetic about Technology news, started my career as an author then, later climbing my way up towards success into senior positions. I can consider myself as the backbone behind the success and growth of with a dream to expand the reach out of the industry on a global scale. I am also a contributor and an editor of the Technology and Energy category. I experienced a critical analysis of companies and extracted the most noteworthy information for our vibrant investor network.

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