Short Dark Tetrad (SD4)

The SD4 is a brief (28-item) self-report questionnaire designed to assess the Dark Tetrad of personality: Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and sadism. Items can be administered with or without the subheadings.


Rate your agreement with each statement using a 5-point scale:

1 = Strongly Disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Neutral
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly Agree


Identity 1: “Crafty”

  1. It’s not wise to let people know your secrets.
  2. Whatever it takes, you must get the important people on your side.
  3. Avoid direct conflict with others because they may be useful in the future.
  4. Keep a low profile if you want to get your way.
  5. Manipulating the situation takes planning.
  6. Flattery is a good way to get people on your side.
  7. I love it when a tricky plan succeeds.

Identity 2: “Special”

  1. People see me as a natural leader.
  2. I have a unique talent for persuading people.
  3. Group activities tend to be dull without me.
  4. I know that I am special because people keep telling me so.
  5. I have some exceptional qualities.
  6. I’m likely to become a future star in some area.
  7. I like to show off every now and then.

Identity 3: “Wild”

  1. People often say I’m out of control.
  2. I tend to fight against authorities and their rules.
  3. I’ve been in more fights than most people of my age and gender.
  4. I tend to dive in, then ask questions later.
  5. I’ve been in trouble with the law.
  6. I sometimes get into dangerous situations.
  7. People who mess with me always regret it.

Identity 4: “Mean”

  1. Watching a fist-fight excites me.
  2. I really enjoy violent films and video games.
  3. It’s funny when idiots fall flat on their face.
  4. I enjoy watching violent sports.
  5. Some people deserve to suffer.
  6. Just for kicks, I’ve said mean things on social media.
  7. I know how to hurt someone with words alone.


Machiavellianism: mean of 7 “Crafty” items
Narcissism: mean of 7 “Special” items
Psychopathy: mean of 7 “Wild” items
Sadism: mean of 7 “Mean” items


Paulhus, D. L., Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., & Jones, D. N. (2021). Screening for dark personalities: The Short Dark Tetrad (SD4). European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 37(3), 208–222.

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Erin E. Buckels
Erin E. Buckels
Assistant Professor of Psychology