A recent research report by three academics based in Australia claims “the high risks and high potential returns of crypto trading make it attractive to the kind of people who like gambling.”

According to a report by The Conversation published on April 11, the three academics — Di Wang, Senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology; Brett Martin, Professor of Marketing at Queensland University of Technology; and Jun Yao, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Macquarie University — carried out a survey to find out about “the relationship between the so-called ‘dark tetrad‘ personality traits and attitudes towards cryptocurrency.”

The report says that the term “dark tetrad” “refers to a group of four personality traits”, i.e. “Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy (together known as the ‘dark triad‘), plus sadism,” and that these traits are considered “dark” due to their “evil” nature, i.e. “extreme selfishness and taking advantage of others without empathy.” Apparently, “the dark tetrad are also often related to risk-taking behaviours.”

The authors also mention that crypto appeals to two groups of people:

  • “people who like gambling”
  • “people who distrust government”

The survey polled 566 people to complete a personality test and share their attitude towards crypto. Of the participants, 26% reported owning cryptoassets and 64% said they had an interest in investing in crypto. 

The authors say that besides “the desire to build wealth”, their research suggests that “dark personality traits also drive crypto buying.”

They found that:

  • “Machiavellians like crypto primarily because they distrust politicians and government agencies”
  • “narcissists like crypto because of their great faith in the future, and because of their confidence their own lives will improve
  • “impulsive psychopaths like crypto, because they fear missing out on investing rewards that others are experiencing”
  • “sadists like crypto because they do not want to miss out on investment rewards either”

Finally, they point out that they “studied only a subset of people interested in crypto who do have these traits” and that “if you happen to be a Bitcoin or other crypto holder, you may or may not exhibit them.”


The views and opinions expressed by the author, or any people mentioned in this article, are for informational purposes only, and they do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice. Investing in or trading cryptoassets comes with a risk of financial loss.

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