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According to study led in Vietnam, a high level of narcissism and Machiavellianism leads to high startup intent

Machiavellianism is the best predictor of startup intent, pro-social motives and selfish motives, while narcissism shows a significant relationship with both startup intent and pro-social motives

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The number of Vietnamese startups has skyrocketed during the last ten years, this is mainly due to the country’s economic development and government support policies. In an effort to better understand startup intent, researchers at the University of Economics and Law, Vietnam National University investigate the relationship between the personalities of the Dark Triad -the trio of negative personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy- and startup intentions of university students in Vietnam.

To do so they carried out an online survey that was answered by 454 respondents, of which 400 were used for the analysis. The respondents consisted of more females (230) than males (170) and the average age was 20.265 years. People aged 20 to 21 made up most of the respondents, accounting for 33.25% and 23.75%, respectively. The respondents were from 18 universities around the country.

The three personalities of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy were measured using a 12-sentence questionnaire. Questions to measure narcissism include “I tend to want others to admire me;”, “… pay attention to me”, “… expect special favors from others”, and “… seek prestige or status”. Machiavellianism was measured by asking participants if they deceive or lie, manipulate, use flattery or exploit others for their own personal goals. The psychopathy aspect mentioned attributes of “lacking remorse”, “unconcerned with morality”, “callous” and “cynical”.

To measure startup intent, participants were assessed using a 6-sentence questionnaire, which asks whether the responders “are ready to be an entrepreneur,” “have starting a company as a goal”, “make efforts to start a firm”, “have the determination or serious thought of it”.

The results from their study show that a higher level of narcissism and Machiavellianism leads to stronger start-up intention, while psychopathy shows no such impact. According to the life history theory, selfish people with strong Dark Triad personalities follow a “fast life” approach and have a greater ambition to become entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the research found no significant association between psychopathy and pro-social start-up motives, but a positive relation with selfish motives.

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