The study used a combination of existing diagnostic tools for evaluating Dark Triad traits and a “Health Belief scale” modified to evaluate people’s perceptions regarding the severity of, and their susceptibility to, COVID-19. Finally, the researchers asked questions to determine how likely participants were (on a one-to-four scale, from “definitely not” to “definitely yes”) to engage in both preventive measures like decontamination and hoarding measures like stockpiling food.

Respondents demonstrating Dark Triad traits—so-called because their malevolent (or “dark”) qualities correlate with more crime, less compassion and dangerous leadership qualities—were more likely to hoard and less likely to take preventive measures. People with Dark Triad traits more often believed they were highly susceptible to the virus, while also believing less in the efficacy of their own actions, qualities that “partially explained” their reluctance to take preventive measures like frequent hand washing and limiting non-necessary trips outside the home.

“Participants higher on the Dark Triad traits seemed to be concerned with negative aspects of prevention and not consider the benefits of it,” the researchers wrote.