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    Belief in Social Darwinism Linked to Dysfunctional Psychological Characteristics



    Summary: Those who subscribe to the theory of Social Darwinism tend to be more hostile to others, admire power, are more exploitative, and have lower self-esteem, researchers say.

    Source: PLOS ONE.

    A recent survey study associates belief in the idea of social Darwinism with certain dysfunctional psychological characteristics, such as ruthless attitudes towards others, hostility, and low self-esteem.

    Those who subscribe to social Darwinism view the social world as kind of competitive jungle requiring ruthless competition for limited resources, in which only the “strongest” survive. Social Darwinism includes a pessimistic view of human nature, holding that people are naturally selfish and that cynical manipulation is an acceptable route to get ahead.

    To understand in a better way the personal characteristics underlying belief in social Darwinism, the researchers conducted a four-part survey study, with each part including around 624 to 853 Polish participants.

    Specifically, the researchers examined the connection between people’s belief in social Darwinism and their characteristics in regards to principle human values, attachment styles, the “Big Five” personality traits, the “Dark Triad” of personality, and moral judgments.

    The examination of the survey results displayed links between belief in social Darwinism and dysfunctional personal characteristics, contradictory to more positive “individual resources.”

    To be clear on the point, social Darwinists were more likely to exhibit admiration for power, a desire to dominate, a desire to achieve their goals at all costs, and hostility. They were also more likely to have quite low self-esteem, low self-sufficiency, and a hesitant attachment style in their close relationships.

    The results are in line with the idea that social Darwinists hold beliefs that disagree with the principles of liberal democracy, and their vision of social life is not favourable to foster a cooperative, egalitarian society.

    Published: PLOS ONE.

    Contact: Piotr Radkiewicz, University of Warsaw.

    Details: Image source IStock


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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