ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Background Gaslighting is a form of psychological/emotional abuse inflicted upon an intimate partner that includes manipulative tactics such as misdirection, denial, lying, and contradiction – all to destabilize the victim/survivor. Compared to other forms of intimate partner abuse, gaslighting remains underexplored in the literature. Aims/Purpose In this preregistered study, we aimed to explore correlates between the Dark Tetrad traits (i.e., grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, Machiavellian tactics, Machiavellian views, primary psychopathy, secondary psychopathy, and sadism) and acceptance of gaslighting tactics in intimate relationships. Method Participants (N = 315; Mage = 42.39; 62.2% women) were recruited online and completed an online questionnaire. We developed and internally validated the Gaslighting Questionnaire, a 10-item self-report measure of acceptance of gaslighting tactics in intimate relationships. Results All the Dark Tetrad traits were associated with more acceptance of gaslighting tactics in intimate relationships, with primary psychopathy, Machiavellian tactics, and sadism emerging as significant predictors in the regression. We also examined sex differences. Compared to women, men found deploying gaslighting tactics more acceptable, and this was largely driven by sex differences in primary psychopathy. Further, men high in vulnerable narcissism demonstrated the greatest acceptance of gaslighting tactics. Conclusions These findings provide foundational information for understanding gaslighting tactics in intimate partner abuse and may have practical implications for relationship counsellors and clinicians practicing in this space. For example, the present findings indicate that personality assessment can be a valuable tool for estimating a client’s propensity to gaslight.
This content is subject to copyright. Terms and conditions apply.
1 3
Journal of Family Violence
“It’s All inYour Head”: Personality Traits andGaslighting Tactics
inIntimate Relationships
EvitaMarch1 · CameronS.Kay2· BojanaM.Dinić3· DanielleWagsta4· BeátaGrabovac5· PeterK.Jonason6,7
Accepted: 22 May 2023
© The Author(s) 2023
Background Gaslighting is a form of psychological/emotional abuse inflicted upon an intimate partner that includes manipu-
lative tactics such as misdirection, denial, lying, and contradiction – all to destabilize the victim/survivor. Compared to other
forms of intimate partner abuse, gaslighting remains underexplored in the literature.
Aims/Purpose In this preregistered study, we aimed to explore correlates between the Dark Tetrad traits (i.e., grandiose
narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, Machiavellian tactics, Machiavellian views, primary psychopathy, secondary psychopathy,
and sadism) and acceptance of gaslighting tactics in intimate relationships.
Method Participants (N = 315; Mage = 42.39; 62.2% women) were recruited online and completed an online questionnaire.
We developed and internally validated the Gaslighting Questionnaire, a 10-item self-report measure of acceptance of gas-
lighting tactics in intimate relationships.
Results All the Dark Tetrad traits were associated with more acceptance of gaslighting tactics in intimate relationships,
with primary psychopathy, Machiavellian tactics, and sadism emerging as significant predictors in the regression. We also
examined sex differences. Compared to women, men found deploying gaslighting tactics more acceptable, and this was
largely driven by sex differences in primary psychopathy. Further, men high in vulnerable narcissism demonstrated the
greatest acceptance of gaslighting tactics.
Conclusions These findings provide foundational information for understanding gaslighting tactics in intimate partner abuse
and may have practical implications for relationship counsellors and clinicians practicing in this space. For example, the
present findings indicate that personality assessment can be a valuable tool for estimating a client’s propensity to gaslight.
Keywords Gaslighting· Intimate Partner Violence· Dark Tetrad· Narcissism· Psychopathy· Machiavellianism· Sadism
Pre-registration: https:// osf. io/ wk3sn/? view_ only= a7df3 0b594
36470 78e45 8fd3d ca429 18
* Evita March
1 Institute ofHealth andWellbeing, Federation University
Australia, Berwick, Australia
2 Psychology Department, University ofOregon, Eugene, USA
3 Department ofPsychology, Faculty ofPhilosophy,
University ofNovi Sad, NoviSad, Serbia
4 Institute ofHealth andWellbeing, Federation University
Australia, Churchill, Australia
5 Department ofSocial Sciences andHumanities, Hungarian
Language Teacher Training Faculty, University ofNovi Sad,
NoviSad, Serbia
6 Department ofGeneral Psychology, University ofPadua,
Padua, Italy
7 Institute ofPsychology, University ofCardinal Stefan
Wyszyński, Warsaw, Poland
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) refers to violence and abuse
between individuals in an intimate partnership (Jewkes, 2002)
and includes not only physical violence but also psychological
and emotional abuse (World Health Organisation, 2012). The
global prevalence of IPV (Sardinha etal., 2022) highlights the
critical importance of ongoing research to better understand,
manage, and prevent the phenomenon. In the current research,
we explore an understudied form of manipulation and control
in intimate relationships – gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a type of psychological and emotional
abuse that involves an abuser (the “gaslighter”) attempting
to make a victim/survivor (the “gaslightee”) seem or feel
“crazy” by creating a “surreal” interpersonal environment
(Sweet, 2019,). Gaslighting is often deployed in intimate
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
relationships with an unequal power balance and is consid-
ered a core feature in intimate partner abuse (Sweet, 2019).
Interestingly, despite the controlling nature of gaslighting
(Logan etal., 2022), this insidious form of abuse is absent
from the Duluth Model-Power and Control Wheel (Pence
& Paymar, 1993), which outlines various controlling and
manipulative intimate relationship behaviour. Although gas-
lighting likely combines elements of the wheel, such as min-
imising, denying, blaming, and the use of isolation, intimida-
tion, and coercive control, the doubting of one’s reality that
is characteristic of gaslighting (Stark, 2019; Sweet, 2019)
is not captured.
Unlike other forms of intimate partner abuse where there
may be overt indicators of abuse (e.g., physical signs, insults,
or other overt controlling behaviours), gaslighting may oper-
ate on a discrete and covert level (Stern, 2007). Gaslight-
ing tactics include constant misdirection, denial, lying,
and contradiction – all to destabilize a target (Bhatti etal.,
2021; Sweet 2019). By destabilizing a target, gaslighting
ultimately prevents them from seeking support and resources
that could help them escape the abuse as they no longer trust
their surroundings (Sweet, 2019). There is even evidence to
suggest that, in the long term, psychological abuse can be
more harmful than physical abuse (Anderson etal., 2003).
Compared to other forms of intimate partner abuse, such as
physical forms and emotional forms, limited research has
explored gaslighting. Here, we extend recent research link-
ing socially aversive personality traits to gaslighting (see
Miano etal., 2021) by exploring the associations between
the Dark Tetrad traits (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism,
psychopathy, and sadism)and facets and perceived accept-
ability of gaslighting tactics. Findings ofthis novel explora-
tion of personality correlates and gaslighting tactics provides
foundational directions for future research, as well as practi-
cal implications for relationship counsellors and clinicians.
The Dark Tetrad Traits andIntimate Partner Abuse
The Dark Tetrad of personality comprises the subclinical
traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and
sadism (Chabrol etal., 2009). Intercorrelated but distinct,
the traits are collectively considered socially aversive (Paul-
hus, 2014) and antisocial (Chabrol etal., 2017). Narcis-
sism is characterized by grandiosity and egoism (Koladich
& Atkinson, 2016), Machiavellianism by cynicism and
manipulation of others (Abell & Brewer, 2014), psychopa-
thy by impulsivity, low empathy, and low guilt (Viding &
McCrory, 2018), and sadism by the enjoyment of psycho-
logically and/or physically harming others (Buckels etal.,
2013). The traits are linked to an opportunistic, exploitative
mating style (Jonason etal., 2012) and are associated with
aggression (Jain etal., 2022) and IPV (Tetreault etal., 2021).
Considerable research has explored associations between
the Dark Tetrad traits and IPV, although the correlations
are not equivalent. People with higher levels of these traits
express more desire for control in intimate relationships
(Hughes & Samuels, 2021). However, Machiavellianism and
psychopathy, but not narcissism, correlate with increased
perpetration of emotional abuse (Carton & Egan, 2017),
with psychopathy as the strongest correlate of various direct
(e.g., physical abuse), indirect (e.g., frightening a partner),
and controlling forms of IPV, especially among men (Kiire,
2017). Other research has found only sadism to correlate
with physical IPV, and only narcissism to not correlate with
verbal IPV (Tetreault etal., 2021). Surprisingly, one study
found no associations between the Dark Tetrad traits and
perpetration of physical IPV (Plouffe etal., 2022) which, the
authors speculated, was a methodological artifact (e.g., fail-
ure to consider context, restricted range, reason for abuse).
We contend that another reason for the inconsistencies may
be a failure to consider the multifaceted nature of the traits.
Facets of psychopathy and narcissism have been explored
in relation to IPV. Primary psychopathy (callousness and
manipulation) and secondary psychopathy (impulsivity and
antisociality) are both related to psychological and physical
aggression (Plouffe etal., 2020) and control (Brewer etal.,
2018)in intimate relationships. However, other researchhas
found only primary psychopathy to correlate with physi-
cal assault, psychological aggression, and sexual coercion
(Iyican & Babcock, 2018). For facets of narcissism, gran-
diose narcissism (grandiosity and superiority) has a direct
relationship with psychological abuse, whereas vulnerable
narcissism (contingent self-esteem, ego-fragility) is indi-
rectly linked to psychological abuse via romantic jealousy
(Ponti etal., 2020). Previous research has found no asso-
ciations between grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcis-
sism, psychopathy, and gaslighting tactics in relationships
(Arabi, 2023). However, the authors assessed gaslighting via
a single, informant-report item (i.e., “Have you encountered
attempts by this partner to deny your perception of real-
ity, thoughts or feelings”). Thus, an investigation into these
traits and gaslighting using a more comprehensive measure
is warranted.
Aims ofCurrent Study
The aim of the current study is to explore the relationships
between the Dark Tetrad traits and gaslighting. Given the
probable bias that exists with direct assessment of the per-
petration of abuse in intimate relationships (Ferrer-Perez
etal., 2020), we indirectly assess the perpetration of gas-
lighting by assessing the acceptance of gaslighting tactics
in intimate relationships. As differential patterns of findings
have emerged for facets of psychopathy (i.e., primary and
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
secondary) and narcissism (i.e., grandiose and vulnerable),
and IPV tactics (see Iyican & Babcock, 2018; Plouffe etal.,
2020; Ponti etal., 2020), we explore these facets and accept-
ance of gaslighting. We also explore acceptance of gaslight-
ing and facets of Machiavellianism – specifically Machi-
avellian views (i.e., a cynical view of others) and tactics
(i.e., interpersonal exploitation). These facets are yet to be
explored in relation to relationship abuse; however, given
Machiavellian views likely generate the callous and exploita-
tive tactics (Monaghan etal., 2020), there is rationale for
both facets to relate to acceptance of gaslighting tactics.
Sadism includes vicarious (i.e., enjoying watching oth-
ers be hurt) and direct (i.e., enjoying hurting others) facets,
with direct sadism further delineated into physical and ver-
bal forms(Paulhus & Dutton, 2016). Although we aimed to
indirectly assess perpetration of gaslighting via acceptance
of tactics, the goal was to make inferences about engaging
in the behaviour. Thus, vicarious sadism was not relevant to
our aim. Further, as gaslighting is considered a form of psy-
chological abuse, the facet of direct physical sadism was also
not of relevance. Therefore, unlike psychopathy, narcissism,
and Machiavellianism, we assessed sadism as a total trait.
As detailed in our preregistration1, we expected the facets of
the Dark Tetrad traits to be associated with greater accept-
ance of gaslighting tactics. In addition, as research indicates
(1) women and men may engage in different forms of IPV
(Chan, 2011; Kiire, 2017), (2) men score higher on the Dark
Tetrad traits than women (Neumann etal., 2022), and (3)
that the Dark Tetrad traits may predict different forms of
IPV for men and women (Green etal., 2020; Tetreault etal.,
2021), we examine not only the overall associations between
the Tetrad and IPV but also the associations between the
Tetrad and IPV separated by gender. We propose no specific
hypotheses for these analyses.
Participants andProcedure
Ethics approval was obtained from the XXXX Human
Research Ethics Committee. All participants provided
informed consent before participating and were debriefed.
Participants were recruited via Cloud Research (https://
www. cloud resea rch. com/; Chandler etal., 2019). An ini-
tial 375 potential participants accessed the link. Of these
potential participants, 31 did not progress beyond the con-
sent page. A further 13 participants failed the attention
checks throughout the questionnaire, and five responses were
removed because they had duplicate IP addresses. Lastly,
11 participants withdrew their consent after the debriefing,
which revealed the specific aims of the study. The final sam-
ple comprised 315 Australian participants aged between 18
to 82 years (Mage = 42.39; SD = 15.06). Of participants,
62.2% identified their biological sex as female and 37.8%
identified their biological sex as male. We therefore adopt
the term sex over gender. Participants predominantly identi-
fied as heterosexual (80.6%) and unmarried (60.3%). Most
participants were not students (83.7%). Using G*Power, an
a priori power analysis indicated that with alpha set at .05,
power at .95, and a small effect size of .10, a minimum sam-
ple size of 236 was required for adequate statistical power.
Thus, our sample size was satisfied. Open data is available
via OSF.2
We assessed primary and secondary psychopathy with the
26-item self-report Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale
(Levenson etal., 1995), which includes 16 items for primary
psychopathy (e.g., “For me, what’s right is whatever I can
get away with”; α = .873) and 10 items for secondary psy-
chopathy (e.g., “I don’t plan anything very far in advance”;
α = .77). Participants indicated agreement with each item (1
= Disagree strongly; 4 = Agree strongly), and after reverse
scoring responses were summed for total scores with higher
scores indicating higher psychopathy.
Grandiose and vulnerable narcissism were assessed with
the 28-item self-report Brief Pathological Narcissism Inven-
tory (Schoenleber etal., 2015), which includes 12 items for
grandiose narcissism (e.g., “I often fantasize about perform-
ing heroic deeds”; α = .89) and 16 items for vulnerable nar-
cissism (e.g., “It’s hard to feel good about myself unless I
know other people admire”; α = .94). Participants reported
how like them each item was (0 = Not like me at all; 5 =
Very much like me), and responses were summed for total
scores with higher scores indicating higher narcissism.
Machiavellian tactics and views were assessed with the
12-item self-report Two-Dimensional Machiavellianism
Scale (Monaghan etal, 2020), which includes six items for
tactics (e.g., “I think that it is OK to take advantage of oth-
ers to achieve an important goal”; α = .78) and six items for
views (e.g., “In my opinion, human nature is to be dishon-
est”; α = .70). Participants indicated agreement with each
item (1 = Disagree strongly; 7 = Agree strongly), and after
1 https:// osf. io/ wk3sn/? view_ only= a7df3 0b594 36470 78e45 8fd3d
ca429 18
2 https:// osf. io/ wk3sn/? view_ only= a7df3 0b594 36470 78e45 8fd3d
ca429 18
3 All alphas are reported after removal of outliers
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
reverse scoring responses were summed for total scores with
higher scores indicating higher Machiavellianism.
Sadism was assessed with the Short Sadistic Impulse
Scale (O’Meara etal., 2011), which includes 10 self-report
items (e.g., “I enjoy seeing people hurt”; α = .92). Partici-
pants indicated agreement with items (1 = Strongly disagree;
5 = Strongly agree), and after reverse scoring responses
were summed for a total score with a higher score indicat-
ing higher sadism.
We assessed controlling relationship tactics with the 16-item
self-report Intimate Partner Violence Control Scale (Bledsoe &
Sar, 2011). Following the recommendations of previous research
to increase generalizability of the measure (see Brewer etal.,
2018), item 15 (e.g., “I wish sometimes that I could take the chil-
dren away from my partner to get her to go along with things”),
was removed from the measure. Participants indicated frequency
(1 = Never; 5 = Very often) to the remaining 15 items (e.g., “I
wish I had more say over who my partner’s friends are”; α =
.97), and responses were summed for a total score with a higher
score indicating a greater desire for control.
We also controlled for socially desirable responding by
including the Marlowe-Crowne Short Form C (Reynolds, 1982)
which comprises 13 self-report items (e.g., “No matter who I
am talking to, I am always a good listener”; α = .73). Partici-
pants responded true or false to items with socially desirable
responses scored as 1 and socially undesirable responses scored
as 0. Responses were summed for a total score with a higher
score indicating more socially desirable responses.
To assess acceptance of gaslighting tactics in intimate
relationships, we generated an initial set of 18 items to
assess gaslighting tactics. Development of these items was
guided by previous measures (see Stern, 2007) and a review
of the extant literature. We asked participants to indicate
how acceptable they found a series of intimate relationship
scenarios (1 = Unacceptable; 7 = Acceptable). An explora-
tory factor analysis with a principal axis factoring extrac-
tion4 was performed on the 18 items, with parallel analysis
demonstrating the presence of one factor that explained
79.3% of the overall variance (Bartlett’s test χ2[153] = 8083,
p < .001; KMO = .98). In the final form of the Gaslighting
Questionnaire, we retained the 10 items with the highest
factor loadings (Table1) which accounted for 75.9% of the
overall variance (Bartlett’s test χ2[45] = 3409, p < .001;
KMO = .97; Cronbach’s alpha = .97).
Data were screened and analysis assumptions were consid-
ered met (See Supplementary Materials). Table2 contains
the correlations overall and by sex along with descriptive
statistics. All Dark Tetrad traits shared significant, positive
correlations with acceptance of gaslighting tactics (p < .05).
Further, an independent measures t-test with a Bonferroni
correction indicated men found gaslighting tactics more
acceptance than women.
As social desirability correlated with gaslighting accept-
ance and all Dark Tetrad traits, we ran a Hierarchical Multi-
ple Regression with social desirability entered at Step 1 and
Table 1 Exploratory Factor Analysis with a Principal Axis Factoring Extraction on the Gaslighting Questionnaire
Note. The total of these items was correlated with the Intimate Partner Violence Control Scale (r[315] = .78, p < .001).
Item Statement Loading
For the following items, please rate how acceptable you find each scenario
1 Person A accuses Person B of lying, even when Person A knows that they are the one who is
2 Person A tells Person B that they are wrong, even when Person A knows that what Person B is
saying is true
3 Person A accuses Person B of being paranoid, even if Person A knows that Person B’s suspi-
cions are well-founded
4 Person A tries to make Person B question their sanity .89
5 Person A says anything to Person B if it means that they will get their way .89
6 Person A lashes out at Person B whenever Person B says something that contradicts Person A’s
version of events
7 Person A never admits to doing anything wrong, even when Person B has proof that Person A
did do something wrong
8 Person A says Person B has a bad memory if Person B catches Person A telling a lie .87
9 Person A makes Person B question their decision-making abilities, if it means Person A gets to
be the one to make decisions in the relationship
10 Person A lies to Person B just to see if Person B will believe them .86
4 Rotation was not applied as only one factor was extracted
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
Table 2 Total and Sex-Specific Zero-Order Correlations, Descriptive Statistics, and t-tests
12 3 456789
Total correlations
1. Social Desir-
2. Grandiose
-.48 -
3. Vulnerable
-.53 .79 -
4. Machiavellian
-.37 .39 .39 -
5. Machiavellian
-.33 .24 .30 .35 -
6. Primary
-.28 .48 .48 .68 .34 -
7. Secondary
-.38 .55 .61 .31 .28 .43 -
8. Sadism -.36 .43 .47 .54 .30 .65 .52 -
9. Gaslighting
-.20 .40 .38 .54 .22 .67 .44 .73 -
Correlations by sex
1. Social Desir-
- -.50a-.49a-.29a-.34a-.23a-.32a-.31a-.11b
2. Grandiose
-.45a- .79a.32b.20a.50a.54a.40a.38a
3. Vulnerable
-.61a.80a- .27b.25a.43b.53b.39b.33b
4. Machiavellian
-.53a.50a.59a- .30a.65a.25a.52a.49a
5. Machiavellian
-.31a.30a.36a.43a- .31a.29a.22b.18b
6. Primary
-.48a.48a.63a.74a.42a- .42a.64a.66a
7. Secondary
-.46a.59a.73a.41a.27a.52a- .48a.46a
8. Sadism -.48a.49a.62a.57a.40a.68a.60a- .69a
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
the Dark Tetrad traits entered at Step 2. At Step 1, social
desirability explained a significant 4.0% of variance in gas-
lighting acceptance, R2 = .40, F(1, 308) = 12.98, p < .001.
At Step 2, the Dark Tetrad traits explained an additional
57.2% of variance in gaslighting acceptance, ΔR2 = .57,
ΔF(7, 301) = 63.38, p < .001. The total model explained
61.2% of variance in gaslighting acceptance, R2 = .61, F(8,
309) = 36.47, p < .001. After accounting for shared vari-
ance, high Machiavellian tactics, high primary psychopathy,
and high sadism were predictive of gaslighting tactics. Coef-
ficients can be seen in Table3.
As correlations by sex indicated potential moderation
– for example, vulnerable narcissism shared stronger cor-
relations with acceptance of gaslighting tactics for men than
women – we explored the simple slopes by conducting a
series of moderation analyses via the PROCESS macro ver-
sion 3.5 (Hayes, 2022) with sex as the moderator, each trait
as the predictor, and gaslighting tactics as the criterion. An
interaction was observed between sex and vulnerable nar-
cissism (p = .023), which is depicted in Fig.1. There was
no difference between men and women at low vulnerable
narcissism (Effect = -2.07, SE = 1.41, p = .141) but a dif-
ference was found at average (Effect = -4.41, SE = 1.01, p <
.001) and high (Effect = -6.75, SE = 1.47, p < .001) levels.
The aim of this study was to explore the relations the Dark
Tetrad traits of primary psychopathy, secondary psychopa-
thy, grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, Machiavel-
lian tactics, Machiavellian views, and sadism, and accept-
ance of gaslighting tactics in intimate relationships. To
address this aim, and the bias associated with direct assess-
ment of the perpetration of abuse in intimate relationships
(see Ferrer-Perez etal., 2020), we developed and provided
initial validation of the Gaslighting Questionnaire. The
measure showed acceptable internal consistency and strong
convergent validity with a measure of IPV control.
We found positive correlations between all Dark Tetrad
facets and acceptance of gaslighting tactics. These findings
support a wide berth of previous research (e.g., Carton &
Egan, 2017; Kiire, 2017) that has linked these traits to a
variety of aggressive and abusive behaviours in intimate
relationships. When controlling for shared variance in the
regression, only primary psychopathy, Machiavellian tac-
tics, and sadism predicted gaslighting tactics, with sadism
emerging as a particularly strong predictor. These findings
are in line with previous research correlating primary psy-
chopathy with psychological aggression and control (Iyican
& Babcock, 2018; Plouffe etal., 2020), Machiavellianism
with emotional abuse (Carton & Egan, 2017), and sad-
ism with relationship control (Hughes & Samuels, 2021).
Table 2 (continued)
12 3 456789
9. Gaslighting
Total M (SD) 7.27 (3.04) 25.35 (12.09) 30.52 (17.58) 17.00 (6.72) 21.21 (6.07) 31.93 (8.26) 23.07 (5.07) 16.80 (8.23) 16.61 (9.57)
Men M (SD) 7.91 (3.04) 25.22 (11.63) 28.63 (17.31) 17.52 (7.08) 20.95 (6.57) 33.89 (7.88) 22.54 (5.04) 17.58 (8.94) 18.90 (10.21)
Women M (SD) 6.88 (2.97) 25.43 (12.39) 31.65 (17.69) 16.69 (6.49) 21.37 (5.76) 30.75 (8.28) 23.38 (5.08) 16.34 (7.77) 15.24 (8.91)
t-value 2.94** -0.15 -1.47 1.06 -0.58 -3.29** -1.42 1.25 3.20**
Hedge’s g.34 -0.02 -0.17 0.12 -0.07 0.39 -0.17 0.15 0.39
Note. All correlation coefficients were significant (p < .05); Correlation between social desirability and gaslighting for women was ns; Correlation coefficients below the diagonal are for men,
correlation coefficients above the diagonal are for women; different subscripts indicate correlations between men and women differ at Fisher’s z, p < .05; t-tests corrected for multiple compari-
sons (Bonferroni correction); Multicollinearity was not present as no correlations between predictors > .80; **p < .01
a, b different subscripts indicate correlations between men and women differ at Fisher’s z, p < .05
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
Although these findings align with previous research, it is
important to note that gaslighting remains its own unique
form of abuse. The goal of gaslighting is to destabilize a
target through constant misdirection, denial, lying, and con-
tradiction (Bhatti etal., 2021; Sodoma, 2022; Sweet 2019).
The covert nature of gaslighting (Stern, 2007) renders this
form of abuse particularly insidious, leading the target to
doubt their own perceptions of reality (Sweet, 2019). Still,
given the extreme interpersonal manipulation employed in
gaslighting, it is logical that primary psychopathy, Machi-
avellian tactics, and sadism would predict more acceptance
of gaslighting tactics.
Compared to secondary psychopathy, characterized by
high emotionality, impulsivity, and sensation seeking (New-
man etal., 2005), greater acceptance of gaslighting tactics is
best associated with primary psychopathy, characterized by
emotional detachment (Levenson etal., 1995), callousness
(Cooke & Michie, 1997), dominance (March & Springer,
2019), cold affect, and the manipulation of others (Vail-
lancourt & Sunderani, 2011). Further, while Machiavellian
views are characterized by pessimistic beliefs that others are
gullible and can easily be manipulated (Monaghan etal.,
2020), Machiavellian tactics includes actively manipulat-
ing others, and justifying this interpersonal exploitation,
for personal gain and goals (Monaghan etal., 2018). Thus,
according to our findings, it is not necessarily the view that
others are able to be manipulated that leads an individual
to find gaslighting tactics more acceptable, but rather the
willingness and ability to manipulate others. Lastly, the
association between sadism and gaslighting tactics is not
particularly surprising – the psychological harm inflicted by
gaslighting (Dimitrova, 2021) likely appeals to the sadist’s
propensity to derive pleasure from harming others (Buckels
etal., 2019). In sum, our findings indicate that gaslighting
is likely a deliberate and manipulative tactic of relationship
control – not necessarily the result of distorted perceptions
or the need for emotional validation.
For both men and women, as vulnerable narcissism increased
so did their acceptance of gaslighting tactics. Compared to
women, men with higher vulnerable narcissism were particularly
Table 3 Beta Coefficients of
Coefficients Table for Social
Desirability and the Dark Tetrad
Traits Predicting Acceptance of
Gaslighting Tactics
Note. * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001
B [95% CI] SE B β t
Step 1
Social Desirability -0.63 [-0.98, -0.29] 0.18 -.20 -3.60***
Step 2
Social Desirability 0.36 [0.08, 0.64] 0.14 .11 2.52*
Grandiose Narcissism 0.06 [-0.03, 0.16] 0.05 .08 1.33
Vulnerable Narcissism -0.04 [-0.11, 0.03] 0.04 -.07 -1.07
Machiavellianism Tactics 0.17 [0.02, 0.31] 0.07 .12 2.23*
Machiavellianism Views -0.07 [-0.20, 0.05] 0.06 -.05 -1.14
Primary Psychopathy 0.31 [0.18, 0.44] 0.07 .27 4.63***
Secondary Psychopathy 0.16 [-0.03, 0.34] 0.09 .08 1.68
Sadism 0.58 [0.46, 0.70] 0.06 .50 9.66***
Fig. 1 Interaction of par-
ticipant’s sex and vulnerable
narcissism on the acceptance of
gaslighting tactics. Low (12.94),
average (30.52), and high
(48.10) vulnerable narcissism
values represent -1SD, M, and
LowAverage High
Vulnerable Narcissism
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
likely to find gaslighting tactics acceptable, a finding in line with
previous research where men’s vulnerable narcissism has been
related to both perpetration of physical/sexual abuse and psycho-
logical abuse (Green etal., 2020)5. As the current study is the
first to explore vulnerable narcissism in relation to gaslighting,
our interpretation is somewhat speculative; however, as those
with higher vulnerable narcissism are hypersensitive to rejec-
tion (Besser & Priel, 2010; Grieve & March, 2021), experience
inadequacy(March etal., 2021), and appraise negative social
feedback as devaluing of the self (Hart etal., 2017), it is pos-
sible that they consider gaslighting tactics (e.g., manipulation,
deflection of blame) acceptable, as these tactics could avoid ego-
threats and shame associated with negative feedback from an
intimate partner. We recommend future research seek to explore
the role of “humiliated fury” (i.e., shame that leads to anger; see
Kaplenko etal., 2018) in the relationship between more vulner-
able forms of narcissism and gaslighting.
Although not a specific hypothesis, it is also worthwhile
noting that men were more accepting of gaslighting tactics
than women, a finding that aligns with speculation that men
are more often the perpetrators of gaslighting and women
more often the victims/survivors (e.g., Morgan, 2007). That
said, the “gender paradigm” of IPV, where men are pre-
dominantly positioned as the perpetrators and women as the
victims/survivors, is by no means established (see Dutton,
2012). Some research has demonstrated little to no sex dif-
ferences in perpetration of different forms of IPV (Kiire,
2017), whereas other research has demonstrated differential
patterns across the forms; for example, women perpetrate
more emotional abuse, whereas men perpetrate more psy-
chological forms of intimidation and threats (Harned, 2001).
There is also evidence that the type of emotional abuse per-
petrated by men and women differ – men appear to be more
motivated by control (Hamberger, 2005) and use tactics
that threaten and inhibit partner autonomy, whereas women
employ shouting/yelling as tactics (Hamberger & Larsen,
2015). We suggest our findings further substantiate the
potential for men and women to engage in different forms
of relational abuse, and we recommend future research avoid
adopting the gender paradigm of IPV and seek to further
explore (1) sex differences in abusive tactics, and (2) why
differential tactics are adoptedby men and women.
Limitations, Future Directions, Conclusions
A potential limitation of the present study was that we
assessed participants’ acceptance of gaslighting rather than
their reported perpetration of gaslighting. We did this to
avoid the possibility that participants would underreport
their tendency to engage in a behaviour that is widely con-
sidered to be undesirable. Still, we encourage researchers
to build on these findings by examining the association
between the Dark Tetrad and one’s actual tendency to engage
in gaslighting behaviours. Further, although we found sup-
port for the Gaslighting Questionnaire’s internal consistency
and convergent validity, additional work should be under-
taken to further establish its psychometric bona fides via
more rigorous psychometric testing.
Although research, particularly psychological research,
on gaslighting remains in its infancy, gaslighting has been
conceptualised to comprise different forms, such as glam-
our gaslighting and intimidator gaslighting (see Fuchsman,
2019; Stern, 2018). Our conceptualization of gaslighting
most closely aligns with intimidator gaslighting, where the
gaslighter exercises control through criticism and disap-
proval (Miano etal., 2021). Future research should endeav-
our toexplore these other forms of gaslighting, as well as
their differential predictors.
Another potential limitation is that we used only single
measures to assess the Dark Tetrad traits, and it is possible
that some of the present results are because of the idiosyn-
crasies of the specific measures used. Future work could
use multiple measures of the Dark Tetrad traits in concert
with latent variable techniques to avoid this issue. Similarly,
other constructs beyond the Dark Tetrad traits may bear of
utility here, such as borderline personality traits (seeMiller
etal., 2010).
Lastly, we recommend future researchers consider explor-
ing gaslighting as a potential social manipulation tactic (see
Jonason & Webster, 2012). In the current study, we explored
gaslighting in intimate relationships; however, gaslighting
can occur in a broad range of social relationships. Future
researchers might consider exploring gaslighting as a manip-
ulation tactic occurring across a broad range of interpersonal
relationships (e.g., organizational and friendships).
This was the first study to conduct a comprehensive
exploration of the Dark Tetrad traits and acceptance of
gaslighting tactics. All Dark Tetrad traits were associ-
ated with more acceptance of gaslighting tactics, with
primary psychopathy, Machiavellian tactics, and sadism
emerging as significant predictors. Men found gaslight-
ing tactics more acceptablee than women, though this
was largely driven by primary psychopathy. Further,
although acceptance of gaslighting tactics increased with
higher vulnerable narcissism for both men and women,
men with higher vulnerable narcissism demonstrated the
greatest acceptance of gaslighting tactics. These novel
findings provide future researchers with a wealth of
opportunity to replicate and expand the exploration of
the understudied phenomena of gaslighting.
5 Interestingly, when controlling for shared variance between the two
forms of narcissism, Green etal. (2020) found only grandiose narcis-
sism to predict perpetration of emotional abuse. To ensure the robust-
ness of our findings, we reran our moderation analysis controlling for
grandiose narcissism as a covariate and the results remained stable.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
Supplementary Information The online version contains supplemen-
tary material available at https:// doi. org/ 10. 1007/ s10896- 023- 00582-y.
Funding Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and
its Member Institutions
Conflict of Interest Statement The authors declare that they have no
conflict of interest.
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri-
bution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adapta-
tion, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long
as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source,
provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes
were made. The images or other third party material in this article are
included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated
otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in
the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will
need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a
copy of this licence, visit http:// creat iveco mmons. org/ licen ses/ by/4. 0/.
Abell, L., & Brewer, G. (2014). Machiavellianism, self-monitoring,
self-promotion and relational aggression on Facebook. Computers
in Human Behavior, 36, 258–262.
Anderson, D. K., Saunders, D. G., Yoshihama, M., Bybee, D., &
Sullivan,C. M. (2003). Long-term trends in depression among
women separatedfrom abusive partners. Violence Against Women,
9, 807– 838.
Arabi, S. (2023). Narcissistic and psychopathic traits in romantic
partners predict post-traumatic stress disorder symptomology:
Evidence for unique impact in a large sample. Personality and
Individual Differences, 201, 111942.
Besser, A., & Priel, B. (2010). Grandiose narcissism versus vulner-
able narcissism in threatening situations: Emotional reactions to
achievement failure and interpersonal rejection. Journal of Social
and Clinical Psychology, 29, 874–902.
Bhatti, M. M., Shuja, K. H., Aqeel, M., Bokhari, Z., Gulzar, S. N.,
Fatima, T., & Sama, M. (2021). Psychometric development
and validation of victim gaslighting questionnaire (VGQ):
across female sample from Pakistan. International Jour-
nal of Human Rights in Healthcare. https:// doi. org/ 10. 1108/
IJHRH- 12- 2020- 0119
Bledsoe, L. K., & Sar, B. K. (2011). Intimate partner violence control
scale: Development and initial testing. Journal of Family Vio-
lence, 26, 171–184.
Brewer, G., Bennett, C., Davidson, L., Ireen, A., Phipps, A. J., Stewart-
Wilkes, D., & Wilson, B. (2018). Dark triad traits and romantic
relationship attachment, accommodation, and control. Personality
and Individual Differences, 120, 202–208.
Buckels, E. E., Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2013). Behavioral
confirmation of everyday sadism. Psychological Science, 24,
Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., Andjelovic, T., & Paulhus, D. L. (2019).
Internet trolling and everyday sadism: Parallel effects on pain per-
ception and moral judgment. Journal of Personality, 87, 328–340.
Carton, H., & Egan, V. (2017). The dark triad and intimate partner
violence. Personality and Individual Differences, 105, 84–88.
Chabrol, H., Van Leeuwen, N., Rodgers, R., & Séjourné, N. (2009).
Contributions of psychopathic, narcissistic, Machiavellian, and
sadistic personality traits to juvenile delinquency. Personality
and Individual Differences, 47, 734–739.
Chabrol, H., Bouvet, R., & Goutaudier, N. (2017). The Dark Tetrad
and antisocial behavior in a community sample of college stu-
dents. Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice,
17, 295–304.
Chandler, J., Rosenzweig, C., Moss, A. J., Robinson, J., & Litman,
L. (2019). Online panels in social science research: Expanding
sampling methods beyond Mechanical Turk. Behavior Research
Methods, 51(5), 2022–2038.
Chan, K. L. (2011). Gender differences in self-reports of intimate
partner violence: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior,
16(2), 167–175.
Cooke, D. J., & Michie, C. (1997). An item response theory analy-
sis of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. Psychological
Assessment, 9(1), 3–14.
Dimitrova, D. (2021). The women insituation of gaslighting – risk
identification in the work environment. European Journal of
Public Health, 31(Supplement_3). https:// doi. org/ 10. 1093/ eur-
pub/ ckab1 65. 327.
Dutton, D. G. (2012). The case against the role of gender in inti-
mate partner violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17(1),
Ferrer-Perez, V. A., Bosch-Fiol, E., Ferreiro-Basurto, V., Delgado-
Alvarez, C., & Sánchez-Prada, A. (2020). Comparing implicit
and explicit attitudes toward intimate partner violence against
women. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2147.
Fuchsman, K. (2019). Gaslighting. The. Journal of Psychohistory,
47, 74–78.
Green, A., MacLean, R., & Charles, K. (2020). Unmasking gender
differences in narcissism within intimate partner violence. Per-
sonality and Individual Differences, 167, 110247.
Grieve, R., & March, E. (2021). ‘Just checking’: Vulnerable and
grandiose narcissism subtypes as predictors of phubbing.
Mobile Media & Communication, 9(2), 195–209.
Hamberger, L. K. (2005). Men’s and women’s use of intimate partner
violence in clinical samples: Toward a gender-sensitive analysis.
Violence and Victims, 20, 131–151.
Hamberger, L. K., & Larsen, S. E. (2015). Men’s and women’s expe-
rience of intimate partner violence: A review of ten years of
comparative studies in clinical samples; Part I. Journal of Fam-
ily Violence, 30, 699–717.
Harned, M. S. (2001). Abused women or abused men?: An examina-
tion of the context and outcomes of dating violence. Violence
and Victims, 16, 269–285.
Hart, W., Adams, J. M., & Tortoriello, G. (2017). Narcissistic
responses to provocation: An examination of the rage and
threatened-egotism accounts. Personality and Individual Dif-
ferences, 106, 152–156.
Hughes, S., & Samuels, H. (2021). Dark desires: The Dark Tetrad
and relationship control. Personality and Individual Differences,
171, 110548.
Iyican, S., & Babcock, J. C. (2018). The relation between the two
factors of psychopathy and intimate partner aggression. Journal
of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 27, 119–130.
Jain, N., Kowalski, C. M., Johnson, L. K., & Saklofske, D. H. (2022).
Dark thoughts, dark deeds: An exploration of the relationship
between the Dark Tetrad and aggression. Current Psychology,
Jewkes, R. (2002). Intimate partner violence: causes and prevention.
The Lancet, 359, 1423–1429.
Jonason, P. K., Luevano, V. X., & Adams, H. M. (2012). How the
Dark Triad traits predict relationship choices. Personality and
Individual Differences, 53(3), 180–184.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Journal of Family Violence
1 3
Jonason, P. K., & Webster, G. D. (2012). A protean approach to
social influence: Dark Triad personalities and social influence
tactics. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 521–526.
Kaplenko, H., Loveland, J. E., & Raghavan, C. (2018). Relationships
between shame, restrictiveness, authoritativeness, and coercive
control in men mandated to a domestic violence offenders pro-
gram. Violence and Victims, 33, 296–309.
Kiire, S. (2017). Psychopathy rather than Machiavellianism or nar-
cissism facilitates intimate partner violence via fast life strategy.
Personality and Individual Differences, 104, 401–406.
Koladich, S. J., & Atkinson, B. E. (2016). The dark triad and rela-
tionship preferences: A replication and extension. Personality
and Individual Differences, 94, 253–255.
Levenson, M. R., Kiehl, K. A., & Fitzpatrick, C. M. (1995). Assess-
ing psychopathic attributes in a noninstitutionalized population.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(1), 151–158.
Logan, T. K., Lynch, K., & Walker, R. (2022). Exploring control,
threats, violence and help-seeking among women held at gunpoint
by abusive partners. Journal of Family Violence, 37(1), 59–73.
March, E., & Springer, J. (2019). Belief in conspiracy theories: The
predictive role of schizotypy, Machiavellianism, and primary psy-
chopathy. PloS one, 14(12), e0225964.
March, E., Grieve, R., Clancy, E., Klettke, B., van Dick, R., & Hernan-
dez Bark, A. S. (2021). The role of individual differences in cyber
dating abuse perpetration. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social
Networking, 24(7), 457–463.
Miano, P., Bellomare, M., & Genova, V. G. (2021). Personality corre-
lates of gaslighting behaviours in young adults. Journal of Sexual
Aggression, 27(3), 285–298.
Miller, J. D., Dir, A., Gentile, B., Wilson, L., Pryor, L. R., & Campbell,
W. K. (2010). Searching for a vulnerable dark triad: Comparing
factor 2 psychopathy, vulnerable narcissism, and borderline per-
sonality disorder. Journal of Personality, 78, 1529–1564.
Monaghan, C., Bizumic, B., Williams, T., & Sellbom, M. (2020). Two-
dimensional Machiavellianism: Conceptualization, theory, and
measurement of the views and tactics dimensions. Psychological
Assessment, 32(3), 277–293.
Monaghan, C., Bizumic, B., & Sellbom, M. (2018). Nomological
network of two-dimensional Machiavellianism. Personality and
Individual Differences, 130, 161–173.
Morgan, R. (2007). The gaslight effect. Random House.
Neumann, C. S., Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2022). Examining the
Short Dark Tetrad (SD4) across models, correlates, and gender.
Assessment, 29(4), 651–667.
Newman, J. P., MacCoon, D. G., Vaughn, L. J., & Sadeh, N. (2005).
Validating a distinction between primary and secondary psychopa-
thy with measures of Gray's BIS and BAS constructs. Journal of
Abnormal Psychology, 114, 319–323.
O'Meara, A., Davies, J., & Hammond, S. (2011). The psychometric
properties and utility of the Short Sadistic Impulse Scale (SSIS).
Psychological Assessment, 23(2), 523–531.
Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Toward a Taxonomy of Dark Personalities. Cur-
rent Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 421–426.
Paulhus, D. L., & Dutton, D. G. (2016). Everyday sadism. In V. Zei-
gler-Hill & D. K. Marcus (Eds.), The Dark Side of Personality:
Science and Practice in Social, Personality, and Clinical Psychol-
ogy (pp. 109–120). American Psychological Association.
Pence, E., & Paymar, M. (1993). Education groups for men who bat-
ter. Springer.
Plouffe, R.A., Wilson, C. A., & Saklofske, D.H. (2020). The role of
dark personality traits in intimate partner violence: A multi-study
investigation. Current Psychology, 1-20.
Plouffe, R. A., Wilson, C. A., & Saklofske, D. H. (2022). Examining
the relationships between childhood exposure to intimate partner
violence, the Dark Tetrad of personality, and violence perpetra-
tion in adulthood. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 37,5–6,
Ponti, L., Ghinassi, S., & Tani, F. (2020). The role of vulnerable and
grandiose narcissism in psychological perpetrated abuse within
couple relationships: The mediating role of romantic jealousy.
The Journal of Psychology, 154, 144–158.
Reynolds, W.M. ( 1982). Development of reliable and valid short forms
of the Marlowe–Crowne Social Desirability Scale. Journal of
Clinical Psychology, 38, 119– 125.
Sardinha, L., Maheu-Giroux, M., Stöckl, H., Meyer, S. R., & García-
Moreno, C. (2022). Global, regional, and national prevalence
estimates of physical or sexual, or both, intimate partner violence
against women in 2018. The Lancet, 399, 803–813.
Schoenleber, M., Roche, M. J., Wetzel, E., Pincus, A. L., & Roberts,
B. W. (2015). Development of a brief version of the Pathologi-
cal Narcissism Inventory. Psychological Assessment, 27(4),
Sodoma, K. A. (2022). Emotional gaslighting and affective empathy.
International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 1-19.
Stark, C. A. (2019). Gaslighting, misogyny, and psychological oppres-
sion. The Monist, 102, 221–235.
Stern R. (2007). The gaslight effect: How to spot and survive the hid-
den manipulations other people use to control your life (2nd ed.).
New York, NY: Harmony.
Stern, R. (2018). The gaslight effect: How to spot and survive the hid-
den manipulation others use to control your life. Harmony.
Sweet, P. L. (2019). The sociology of gaslighting. American Sociologi-
cal Review, 84(5), 851–875.
Tetreault, C., Bates, E. A., & Bolam, L. T. (2021). How dark per-
sonalities perpetrate partner and general aggression in Sweden
and the United Kingdom. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36,
Vaillancourt, T., & Sunderani, S. (2011). Psychopathy and indirect
aggression: The roles of cortisol, sex, and type of psychopathy.
Brain and Cognition, 77, 170–175.
Viding, E., & McCrory, E. J. (2018). Understanding the development
of psychopathy: progress and challenges. Psychological Medicine,
48, 566–577.
World Health Organisation (2012). Intimate Partner Violence.
Retrieved from https:// apps. who. int/ iris/ bitst ream/ handle/ 10665/
77432/? seque nce=1
Publisher’s Note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to
jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Terms and Conditions
Springer Nature journal content, brought to you courtesy of Springer Nature Customer Service Center GmbH (“Springer Nature”).
Springer Nature supports a reasonable amount of sharing of research papers by authors, subscribers and authorised users (“Users”), for small-
scale personal, non-commercial use provided that all copyright, trade and service marks and other proprietary notices are maintained. By
accessing, sharing, receiving or otherwise using the Springer Nature journal content you agree to these terms of use (“Terms”). For these
purposes, Springer Nature considers academic use (by researchers and students) to be non-commercial.
These Terms are supplementary and will apply in addition to any applicable website terms and conditions, a relevant site licence or a personal
subscription. These Terms will prevail over any conflict or ambiguity with regards to the relevant terms, a site licence or a personal subscription
(to the extent of the conflict or ambiguity only). For Creative Commons-licensed articles, the terms of the Creative Commons license used will
We collect and use personal data to provide access to the Springer Nature journal content. We may also use these personal data internally within
ResearchGate and Springer Nature and as agreed share it, in an anonymised way, for purposes of tracking, analysis and reporting. We will not
otherwise disclose your personal data outside the ResearchGate or the Springer Nature group of companies unless we have your permission as
detailed in the Privacy Policy.
While Users may use the Springer Nature journal content for small scale, personal non-commercial use, it is important to note that Users may
use such content for the purpose of providing other users with access on a regular or large scale basis or as a means to circumvent access
use such content where to do so would be considered a criminal or statutory offence in any jurisdiction, or gives rise to civil liability, or is
otherwise unlawful;
falsely or misleadingly imply or suggest endorsement, approval , sponsorship, or association unless explicitly agreed to by Springer Nature in
use bots or other automated methods to access the content or redirect messages
override any security feature or exclusionary protocol; or
share the content in order to create substitute for Springer Nature products or services or a systematic database of Springer Nature journal
In line with the restriction against commercial use, Springer Nature does not permit the creation of a product or service that creates revenue,
royalties, rent or income from our content or its inclusion as part of a paid for service or for other commercial gain. Springer Nature journal
content cannot be used for inter-library loans and librarians may not upload Springer Nature journal content on a large scale into their, or any
other, institutional repository.
These terms of use are reviewed regularly and may be amended at any time. Springer Nature is not obligated to publish any information or
content on this website and may remove it or features or functionality at our sole discretion, at any time with or without notice. Springer Nature
may revoke this licence to you at any time and remove access to any copies of the Springer Nature journal content which have been saved.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, Springer Nature makes no warranties, representations or guarantees to Users, either express or implied
with respect to the Springer nature journal content and all parties disclaim and waive any implied warranties or warranties imposed by law,
including merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose.
Please note that these rights do not automatically extend to content, data or other material published by Springer Nature that may be licensed
from third parties.
If you would like to use or distribute our Springer Nature journal content to a wider audience or on a regular basis or in any other manner not
expressly permitted by these Terms, please contact Springer Nature at
... In recent years, IPV literature has begun to engage explicitly with the concept of gaslighting, identifying the role of "power-laden" social identities and systemic oppression in gaslighting and suggesting that people who report having both very high and very low levels of power may be most likely to engage in gaslighting behaviors (Graves & Samp, 2021;Sweet, 2019). Studies have also found that personality traits, such as psychoticism, sadism, and Machiavellian views may be associated with using gaslighting tactics (March et al., 2023;Miano et al., 2021). Additionally, several gaslighting questionnaires and scales have been piloted recently, including the Victim Gaslighting Questionnaire (VGQ), which proposes a two-factor model of gaslighting experiences in intimate partnerships with peer disagreement and loss of self-trust as the two primary factors (Bhatti et al., 2021). ...
Full-text available
Purpose Gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse that targets a survivor’s sense of trust in their own knowing abilities, has received increasing attention in public discourse and scholarly research in recent years. However, in the small but growing body of academic literature, little has been written on survivors’ subjective experiences of gaslighting, specifically related to the impacts of this uniquely epistemic form of abuse. What does gaslighting do to a survivor’s sense of themselves as a knower? What are the lasting impacts of this kind of abuse? Through interviews with survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV), this study aims to illuminate this slippery and mind-bending form of abuse and its implications for survivor sense of self and wellbeing. Methods Fourteen IPV survivors were interviewed about their gaslighting experiences, and data were analyzed using qualitative descriptive methods. Results Two clusters of findings emerged. Survivors described (1) the domains of knowledge implicated in their gaslighting experiences, (2) the lasting impacts of gaslighting and survivors’ efforts to cope and heal. Together, the findings of this study begin to outline the profound loss of self-trust that gaslighting can produce across domains and how survivors make sense of and cope with their altered sense of themselves as knowers. Conclusions This study provides a much-needed deep investigation of the subjective experience of gaslighting in IPV, with specific attention to its uniquely epistemic dimensions. Findings are discussed in the context of Relational Cultural Theory (Jordan, 2001) and suggest the need for increased capacity for screening and detection of gaslighting in IPV.
Using traditional clinical approaches and the results of extensive statistical researches of recent years, the author comprehensively analyzed the development and the functioning of a romantic relationship with a narcissist. Love is one of the most popular means providing narcissistic aspirations. Probably, this way is chosen by individuals with the appropriate potential (attractiveness, charm, sexually inviting behavior) to satisfy their own narcissism. It is relatively easy to achieve an idealization from a romantic partner, her/his emotional dependence and power over him/her. Such perspectives create hope for a narcissist to transform his/her life by filling him/herself with the love of the partner, which should compensate childhood emotional traumas and reinforce the narcissist's extremely inflated but fragile self-esteem. Narcissists are extremely successful in the relationship initiation and its initial phase, creating an impression of ideal love. However, they experience significant problems in the later stages of relationship development. They do not want to build a partnership at all, always remain opened to new relationships. When it is no longer possible to increase admiration by his/her partner, they switch to the strategy of rivalry. Through the use of various forms of abuse, exploitation and infidelity, the narcissist strengthens his/her self-esteem, feeling power over his/her partner and her/his emotional dependence. This causes the partner's emotional injuries, who over time also begins to reject and avoid the narcissist. The consequences for the narcissist are: reduced quality of life, low relationship satisfaction and feelings of loneliness. But since narcissism is largely determined genetically, by a history of significant relationships in childhood and provides partially successful adaptation, the prospects for changing the narcissistic style of romantic relationships through psychotherapy are pessimistic. However, psychological help is necessary and effective for a narcissist's romantic partner.
Full-text available
This paper revisits the ongoing debate regarding the uniqueness of each of the Dark Tetrad traits. Extending Jones and Neria's (Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 360-364, 2015) research, we investigated how these traits are differentially related to aggressive tendencies and whether these relationships are mediated by anger rumination. Data were collected from 314 university students who completed online self-report measures on the Dark Tetrad traits, trait aggression, and anger rumination. Psychopathy had the strongest correlation with physical aggression, while hostility was most strongly related to Machiavellianism. Supplementary analyses revealed that anger rumination mediated the relationship between psychopathy and aggressive tendencies while also playing a mediatory role between Machiavellianism and some expressions of trait aggression. Similar mediation patterns were observed for sadism. While sadism and psychopathy were very similar, these results support that the Dark Tetrad traits should also be viewed as unique constructs even as they are intercorrelated. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Full-text available
Background Intimate partner violence against women is a global public health problem with many short-term and long-term effects on the physical and mental health of women and their children. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for its elimination in target 5.2. To monitor governments' progress towards SDG target 5.2, this study aimed to provide global, regional, and country baseline estimates of physical or sexual, or both, violence against women by male intimate partners. Methods This study developed global, regional, and country estimates, based on data from the WHO Global Database on Prevalence of Violence Against Women. These data were identified through a systematic literature review searching MEDLINE, Global Health, Embase, Social Policy, and Web of Science, and comprehensive searches of national statistics and other websites. A country consultation process identified additional studies. Included studies were conducted between 2000 and 2018, representative at the national or sub-national level, included women aged 15 years or older, and used act-based measures of physical or sexual, or both, intimate partner violence. Non-population-based data, including administrative data, studies not generalisable to the whole population, studies with outcomes that only provided the combined prevalence of physical or sexual, or both, intimate partner violence with other forms of violence, and studies with insufficient data to allow extrapolation or imputation were excluded. We developed a Bayesian multilevel model to jointly estimate lifetime and past year intimate partner violence by age, year, and country. This framework adjusted for heterogeneous age groups and differences in outcome definition, and weighted surveys depending on whether they were nationally or sub-nationally representative. This study is registered with PROSPERO (number CRD42017054100). Findings The database comprises 366 eligible studies, capturing the responses of 2 million women. Data were obtained from 161 countries and areas, covering 90% of the global population of women and girls (15 years or older). Globally, 27% (uncertainty interval [UI] 23–31%) of ever-partnered women aged 15–49 years are estimated to have experienced physical or sexual, or both, intimate partner violence in their lifetime, with 13% (10–16%) experiencing it in the past year before they were surveyed. This violence starts early, affecting adolescent girls and young women, with 24% (UI 21–28%) of women aged 15–19 years and 26% (23–30%) of women aged 19–24 years having already experienced this violence at least once since the age of 15 years. Regional variations exist, with low-income countries reporting higher lifetime and, even more pronouncedly, higher past year prevalence compared with high-income countries. Interpretation These findings show that intimate partner violence against women was already highly prevalent across the globe before the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments are not on track to meet the SDG targets on the elimination of violence against women and girls, despite robust evidence that intimate partner violence can be prevented. There is an urgent need to invest in effective multisectoral interventions, strengthen the public health response to intimate partner violence, and ensure it is addressed in post-COVID-19 reconstruction efforts.
Full-text available
Purpose Gaslighting a form of abusive manipulation both emotional and psychological is a growing phenomenon in recent times. However, as of yet, there is a scarcity of a valid and reliable instrument which can measure the severity of gaslighting in victims of interpersonal relationships abuse. The purpose of this study is the development of an instrument which can effectively measure gaslighting in victims and is psychometrically reliable and valid. Design/methodology/approach Since the aim of the study was the development of a scale first a sample of eight women who were victims of domestic abuse was taken for the focus group. Afterwards using purposive sampling a sample of 20 women for the pilot study and a sample of 150 women for the main study was taken with age range 18–40 (M = 23.38, S.D = 4.03). For the development of scale theoretical basis along with a focus group was conducted to establish an item pool. Afterwards, subject matter experts helped in establishing contend validity followed by Velicer’s minimum average partial (MAP) method and maximum likelihood factor analysis (FA) was performed for the establishment of the factorial structure of the instrument. Findings Velicer’s MAP method and Maximum Likelihood FA suggested two factor structures including peer disagreement and loss of self-trust. Instrument displayed high alpha reliability of α = 0.934, with α = 0.927 and α = 0.854, for the subscale, respectively. Research limitations/implications Though all necessary steps were taken to minimize the limitations of the present study, however, some limitations do exist which needs to be addressed. The foremost limitation of the present scale is that it is being developed with only a female sample, however, the inclusion of a male sample in future studies can help in identifying whether men also are victims of gaslighting from peers and other family members or not. The second limitation is of validity though necessary validities have been established future studies should study on establishing further validities to further refine the instrument. Additionally, the scale has only been validated and tested on female samples future studies should be conducted on other specific groups or samples to develop norms. Moreover, testing the scale on other cultures could also help in establishing cross cultural validation of the instrument. Finally, though the scale assumes a higher level of scores suggests a higher level of victimization, a proper cutoff score can help in further identifying proper victims from the normal level of gaslighting. Practical implications The present instrument has its applicability in several domains the most important being in the criminal justice system as gaslighting comes under gaslighting and even in the UK is considered as a criminal offense. This instrument can help in determining the severity of gaslighting in victims. Likewise, it can be used in clinical settings for psychologists to identify possible cases of gaslighting victims which can enable them to provide specific help and treatment for them. Moreover, researchers can also benefit from the instrument as it can enable them to explore gaslighting with other possible variables which can help them explore the concept of gaslighting even further. Originality/value This paper is a novel study and has been completed with the purpose of evaluating the effects of gaslighting in victims of interpersonal relationships abuse as the earlier measures are either not psychometrically valid or cannot be generalized to a wider population. The present established scale is an effort to construct an instrument that can be used worldwide.
Full-text available
Firearms are used in over half of partner violence victim homicides, and many victims experience firearm-related threats from their abusive partners. It is unclear whether, and to what extent, abusers who make firearm-related threats also engage in other forms of control and violence. An online community-based sample of women whose abusive partners caused them to experience fear because of their access to guns or threats to use them were recruited for the study. This study examined coercive control, threats, violence, and help-seeking for women whose partner held them at gunpoint (n = 112) compared to women whose partners did not hold them at gunpoint (n = 125). Women whose partners held them at gunpoint experienced more severe and frequent firearm and non-firearm related threats and physical/sexual violence. Additionally, abusers used a variety of strategies to control victims including tactics to increase dependency, debility, and dread—all of which were more frequent and severe among women held at gunpoint by the abuser. Only about half of the women held at gunpoint, and 30% of those not held at gunpoint, talked to police or sought a civil protective order. Among those that sought help through the justice system, only about 70% told police or the court about the firearm threats. Current legal remedies that restrict firearms may reduce some lethality risk, but safety is far from guaranteed by solely restricting gun ownership underscoring the importance of assessment and safety planning for partner violence victims who experience firearm-related threats.
Full-text available
To date, no studies have examined a range of structural models of the interpersonally aversive traits tapped by the Short Dark Tetrad (SD4; narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, sadism), in conjunction with their measurement invariance (males vs. females) and how the models each predict external correlates. Using a large sample of young adults ( N = 3,975), four latent variable models were compared in terms of fit, measurement invariance, and prediction of intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning. The models tested were as follows: (Model A) confirmatory factor analytic, (Model B) bifactor, (Model C) exploratory structural equation model, and (Model D) a reduced-item confirmatory factor analytic that maximized item information. All models accounted for item covariance with good precision, although differed in incremental fit. Strong invariance held for all models, and each accounted similarly for the external correlates, highlighting differential predictive effects of the SD4 factors. The results provide support for four theoretically distinct but overlapping dark personality domains.
Background As a contemporary form of “workplace harassment' (WH) is reported gaslighting. Preston Ni, defines it as ‘A form of constant manipulation and brainwashing…' The phenomenon is presented as mainly affecting the woman in the workplace. The aim of the study is to determine and identify the risk of subjecting a woman in the workplace in Bulgaria to this form of psychological pressure gaslighting, in favor of building a risk reduction program cause. Methods Empirical sociological research (ESR) among working women for period of 10 years in Sofia (around 2 million citizens), Bulgaria. An anonymous survey of 2,000 working women between the ages of 30 and 65 was conducted. The questionnaire of the respondents with only more than 5 years of work experience are included. Results Of the surveyed 25% are between 30-40 years, about 47% are 41-50 years, about 25% are 51-60 years and about 3% are 61-65 years. The result of the study indicates that mostly women between 41 and 50 years are subjected to psychological pressure by a man at work (about 45%), about 15% - are 51-60 years, only about 5% of women 31-40 years, and less 2% over 61. All of them are described as introverted. Mostly women with a high level of education have remained mentally resistant to gaslighting - about 35% of respondents, and less than 5% of them have shown higher creativity against the background of psychological pressure. In almost 1/3 of those subjected to prolonged mental harassment, were diagnosed for the first time, including: Hashimoto's thyroiditis (5%); arterial hypertension (about 10%); ischemic disease (about 15%). Half of them are presented with depression. Conclusions Gaslighting is a hidden psychological violence against a female person based on hate speech and demonstration of power. Gaslighting is defined as a real risk among women, mostly of the introverted type. Emotional plasticity based on knowledge and smart has a positive effect in situation of gaslighting. Key messages Gaslighting can lead to lack of confidence, clinical depression, distress and related physical illnesses. Early risk detection provides advantages for early reduction and optimization of the corporate culture of the department and the institution and in favor of building a risk reduction program.
This study investigated whether partner psychopathy and narcissism predicted posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Participants (N = 1294) involved in romantic relationships with individuals they perceived to have high narcissistic or psychopathic traits completed the Informant Five Factor Narcissism Inventory, the Modified Self-Report Psychopathy Scale and the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 to assess partner traits and their own PTSD symptoms. The study also accounted for the impact of previous abuse history such as childhood abuse, manipulative behaviors associated with these partner traits such as love-bombing, gaslighting, stonewalling, jealousy induction, relationship status and duration, and the presence of physical abuse. Multiple linear regressions revealed that grandiose and vulnerable narcissism were significant predictors of PTSD symptomology for those who had already left the romantic relationship, even when previous abuse, physical abuse, manipulative tactics and abuse frequency were accounted for. Partner grandiose narcissism was the strongest predictor of PTSD and was more predictive than abuse frequency, childhood abuse or physical abuse for those who had left the relationship. Partner grandiose narcissism was the strongest predictor for most PTSD symptom clusters. Partner traits explained the most variance in PTSD intrusion and avoidance symptoms. Love bombing and jealousy induction were significant but weaker predictors of PTSD, and partially mediated the effect of grandiose narcissism on PTSD, although the direct effect of grandiose narcissism on PTSD was stronger than this mediation. For individuals who stayed in the relationship, only psychopathy, abuse frequency and childhood abuse remained significant predictors. This is the first study to establish that narcissistic partner traits are associated with posttraumatic symptomology.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that undermines a target’s confidence in their own cognitive faculties. Different forms of gaslighting can be distinguished according to whether they undermine a target’s confidence in their emotional reactions, perceptions, memory, or reasoning abilities. I focus on ‘emotional gaslighting’, which undermines a target’s confidence in their emotional reactions and corresponding evaluative judgments. While emotional gaslighting rarely occurs in isolation, it is often an important part of an overall gaslighting strategy. This is because emotions can help us to understand the evaluative aspects of our situation and thus put us in a position to protest wrongs, which is a context in which gaslighting frequently occurs. I argue that affective empathy constitutes an important antidote to emotional gaslighting. Affective empathy can lead to endorsement of a target’s emotional reaction as appropriate to their situation and agreement with the corresponding evaluative judgment. When it leads to endorsement, affective empathy can counteract the effects of emotional gaslighting because it reassures a target in their ability to make evaluative judgments based on their emotional reactions. Because of its opposing effects, affective empathy with the victim thus constitutes an important intervention to emotional gaslighting on the part of third parties.
There is a growing research interest in cyber dating abuse (CDA). CDA includes abusive online behavior toward a current or former intimate partner, such as aggression, control, harassment, and humiliation. Despite the potential overlap and reciprocal relationship of CDA and intimate partner violence, there remains considerable paucity in research exploring predictors of this abusive online behavior. In the current study, we adopt the General Aggression Model framework and explore the role of gender, hegemonic masculinity, vulnerable narcissism, and sexual aggression myths to predict perpetration of CDA. Participants (N = 415, 51 percent women; Mage = 32.68 years) were recruited via social media advertisements and completed an anonymous, confidential online questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised the Conformity to Masculine Roles Norms Inventory, the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale, the Acceptance of Modern Myths About Sexual Aggression Scale, and a modified Cyber Aggression in Relationships Scale. A hierarchical regression analysis indicated that hegemonic masculinity, vulnerable narcissism, and sexual aggression myths were all significant positive predictors of perpetrating CDA. As gender was a significant predictor until the inclusion of these variables, a multiple mediation analysis was performed, indicating that both hegemonic masculinity and sexual aggression myths fully mediated the relationship between gender and perpetrating CDA. These results add to the growing body of research exploring how CDA emerges as a behavior and highlight possible implications for management and intervention.