Elucidating the dark side of envy: Distinctive links of benign and malicious envy with dark personalities

Jens Lange*, Delroy L. Paulhus, Jan Crusius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Researchers have recently drawn a contrast between two forms of envy: benign and malicious envy. In three studies (total N = 3,123), we challenge the assumption that malicious envy is destructive, whereas benign envy is entirely constructive. Instead, both forms have links with the Dark Triad of personality. Benign envy is associated with Machiavellian behaviors, whereas malicious envy is associated with both Machiavellian and psychopathic behaviors. In Study 1, this pattern emerged from meta-analyzed trait correlations. In Study 2, a manipulation affecting the envy forms mediated an effect on antisocial behavioral intentions. Study 3 replicated these patterns by linking envy to specific antisocial behaviors and their impact on status in the workplace. Together, our correlational and experimental results suggest that the two forms of envy can both be malevolent. Instead of evaluating envy’s morality, we propose to focus on its functional value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-614
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • benign and malicious envy
  • envy
  • Machiavellianism
  • psychopathy
  • status


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