why some take risks on Bitcoin

We measured their dark tetrad traits using standard psychological tests. We also measured traits that might connect the dark tetrad to judgements about crypto: fear of missing out (FOMO; the feeling that others are experiencing better things than you are), positivity (the tendency to be positive or optimistic in life), and belief in conspiracy theories.

Why do people want to buy crypto? It’s not just about making money.

Dark tetrad personality traits influence positivity, conspiracy beliefs, and fear of missing out, which in turn influence attitudes to cryptocurrency.Credit:The Conversation

A common reason to invest in crypto is the hope of earning high returns. Beyond the desire to build wealth, our research shows dark personality traits also drive crypto buying.

Machiavellianism is named after the Italian political philosophy of Niccolò Machiavelli. People who rate highly on this trait are good at deception and interpersonal manipulation. Machiavellians take a calculated approach to achieving goals, and avoid impulsive decisions. They are less likely to engage in problem gambling.

Machiavellians also tend to believe strongly in government conspiracies. For example, they often believe politicians usually do not reveal their true motives, and that government agencies closely monitor all citizens. We found Machiavellians like crypto primarily because they distrust politicians and government agencies. Many crypto supporters believe governments are corrupt, and crypto avoids government corruption.

Narcissism is a self-centred personality trait, characterised by feelings of privilege and predominance over others. Narcissists are overconfident and are more willing to do things like make risky investments in the stock market and gamble.

A common reason to invest in crypto is the hope of earning high returns.

A common reason to invest in crypto is the hope of earning high returns.Credit:Bloomberg

Narcissists tend to focus on the positive side of life. We found narcissists like crypto because of their great faith in the future, and because of their confidence their own lives will improve.

Psychopathy is a callous, impulsive antisocial personality trait. Psychopathic people often find it difficult to perceive, understand, or address emotions due to a lack of emotional intelligence and empathy.

The reckless nature of psychopaths makes them more resistant to stress and anxiety. As a result, psychopaths like stimulation-seeking and risk-taking. They are prone to gambling and gambling addiction.

We found that impulsive psychopaths like crypto, because they fear missing out on investing rewards that others are experiencing.

How is sadism involved?

Everyday sadism relates to a personality enjoying another’s suffering. Sadists often display aggression and cruel behaviours. For example, sadists troll others on the Internet for enjoyment.

At first glance, buying crypto is unlikely to harm others. However, we found sadists like crypto because they do not want to miss out on investment rewards either. To them, perhaps both the pleasure from seeing another’s pain and the fear of missing out are related to selfishness.

Unlike narcissists, we found both psychopaths and sadists lack positivity about their prospects, which cancels out their liking of crypto.


Studying cryptocurrency through the psychological lens of the dark tetrad offers insight into why people want to buy crypto. We are not suggesting that everyone interested in crypto displays dark tetrad traits.

We studied only a subset of people interested in crypto who do have these traits. If you happen to be a Bitcoin or other crypto holder, you may or may not exhibit them.

If you want to know how you score for dark tetrad traits, you can do the Dark Triad Personality Test and Sadism Test online.

Di Wang is a senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, Brett Martin is professor of marketing at Queensland University of Technology and Jun Yao is senior lecturer in marketing at Macquarie University.

This article is republished from The Conversation.

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