Simone Ray is a Clinical Psychologist, Advanced Certified Individual Schema Therapist and Board Approved Clinical Supervisor from Melbourne, Australia. Simone has worked as a clinical psychologist in prisons, drug and alcohol settings, schools, and in private practice. She works with complex trauma, dissociative disorders, and personality disorders. She is also the current chairperson of the International Society for Schema Therapy (ISST) Science and Research Committee. Simone is completing her PhD at Bond University which integrates the Schema Therapy model with aberrant personality traits and dysfunctional workplace behaviours.
Destined for The Dark Side? Exploring a ‘Dark’ Schema Therapy model of dysfunctional workplace outcomes
The link between the Dark Triad (DT; i.e., Psychopathy, Narcissism, and Machiavellianism) personality traits and dysfunctional workplace outcomes is established in the literature, yet underlying determinants remain poorly understood. As organizational settings can emphasize power, control, hierarchy and status over interpersonal affiliation, Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMS) and Schema modes may be re-enacted in this context and contribute to dysfunctional workplace outcomes (Bamber & McMahon, 2008). The aim of this PhD research was to explore the application of the Schema Therapy model to the DT personality traits in an organizational context.
The project comprised three cross-sectional design survey studies and recruited participants employed in the public and private work sector. The first study explored the EMS associated with the DT within a working sample. The second study examined the interrelationships between recalled negative parenting experiences, EMS, and the DT personality traits among subordinates and leaders in the workplace. The third study examined the EMS, Schema modes, and dysfunctional workplace behaviours of employees with dark triad traits.
For the first study, a correlation analysis revealed that employees with DT traits share a similar pattern of EMSs, including Entitlement/Grandiosity, Approval/Recognition Seeking and Punitiveness. Correlation and Network analysis for the second study revealed that although leaders and subordinates with DT traits share a similar pattern of EMS, the strength of these EMS and negative early parenting experience can differ depending on the DT trait and leadership status. Namely, Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness EMS was stronger for corporate psychopathic and narcissistic leaders compared to subordinates. Regression and Mediation analysis for the third study found that there are certain Schema modes (Conning and Manipulative mode, Self-Aggrandizer, etc.) and dysfunctional workplace behaviours associated with the DT, and that certain traits and Schema modes are ‘darker’ and may be more deviant in the workplace than others.
The research highlights the utility of Schema Therapy to the organizational context and provides preliminary support for a ‘Dark’ Schema Therapy model of dysfunctional workplace outcomes. Specifically, the research highlights the role of certain negative parenting practices that may potentially contribute to the development of EMSs associated with the DT. The study also highlights the need to consider EMS and Schema modes in organizational research and settings and suggests that evaluation and intervention with specific EMS and schema modes has the potential to reduce the DT’s dysfunctional workplace behaviours.