The BDNF Val66Met modulates the Dark Triad: empathic concern and aggression as mediators

Rui Quan, Wenxuan Guo, Linlin He, Ruliang Pan, Quanhe Wang, Rui Zhang, Yuhe Fan, Mengfei Zhang, Pingyuan Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Empathy and aggression are features of the Dark Triad. They are linked to the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism. Here, we investigated the relationships between this polymorphism and the Dark Triad traits. Methods: We genotyped the BDNF Val66Met of 698 college students and measured personalities of the Dark Triad, self-report empathy, and aggression with scales of the Short Dark Triad, Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and Buss and Perry’s Aggression Questionnaire, respectively. Results: The Met/Met genotype of the BDNF Val66Met was related to higher scores on Machiavellianism and narcissism as compared with the Val carriers. The association between the BDNF Val66Met and Machiavellianism was mediated by aggression and empathic concern, while the association between this polymorphism and narcissism was only mediated by aggression. Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of the BDNF Val66Met to the Dark Triad and reveals psychobiological pathways where aggression and empathic concern mediate the link between the BDNF gene and the Dark Triad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-347
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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