Owning crypto is associated with ‘dark’ traits, scientists claim

A visual representation of bitcoin cryptocurrency is pictured on 30 May, 2021 in London, England (Getty Images)
A visual representation of bitcoin cryptocurrency is pictured on 30 May, 2021 in London, England (Getty Images)

Those who own cryptocurrency are more likely to have “dark tetrad” personality traits, according to a new study.

Investors in digital currencies are also more likely to be men, rely on fringe social media sources, believe in conspiracy theories and feel victimised.

That is according to new research that polled 2,001 American adults on whether they owned or had owned cryptocurrency. Around 30 per cent of them said that they had.

It then asked about important demographic information, as well as other questions aimed at revealing their political, psychological and social traits.

The researchers then took that data and attempted to work out what characteristics were the best predictors of whether someone had bought cryptocurrency.

They found that among other important characteristics, those who had bought them were more likely to report that they had personality traits aligned with the “dark tetrad”. That is made up of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism.

The dark tetrad is a psychological theory that builds on the more famous dark triad, and adds sadism. The triad was first proposed at the beginning of the century, and researchers have said that those with the behaviour are more likely to be disruptive employees, commit crimes or cause other issues.

But the most strong predictor of whether someone had owned cryptocurrency was whether they relied on fringe social media sources for news, the researchers said.

They also pointed to other important characteristics: maleness, argumentativeness, higher income, and feelings of victimhood.

The researchers recognised that the sample of participants was relatively limited, and that those involved in the study were relied on to report their own characteristics. But they found a strong correlation between some of the characteristics, an suggested that they could lead to further research into what leads people towards cryptocurrencies.

The new study, ‘The political, psychological, and social correlates of cryptocurrency ownership’, is published in the journal PLOS ONE.