THE average Bitcoin investor is a calculating psychopath with an inflated ego, according to scientists.
A team of experts recently surveyed more than 500 people to uncover the personality traits that are most common among crypto nuts.
They identified that many investors exhibit signs of the "dark tetrad", a group of four unsavoury traits made up of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism.
In plain English, that means dark tetrads have an inflated sense of self-importance and derive pleasure from the pain of others.
They also find it difficult to empathise with others and are sly and manipulative.
Scientists at Queensland University of Technology described their findings in research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences earlier this month.
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They asked 566 people to complete personality surveys as well as answers questions about their attitudes to crypto.
Of the participants, one in four reported that they owned crypto and two-thirds showed an interest in crypto investing.
All four dark tetrad traits correlated with an affinity for investing, each for their own reasons.
According to the researchers, dark tetrads are partly drawn to crypto because they are prepared to take risks.
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Digital assets such as Bitcoin are infamously volatile and the feast-or-famine nature of investing is particularly enticing to some.
Study lead author Dr Di Wang wrote in The Conversation: "Dark tetrad traits are 'dark' because of their 'evil' qualities: Extreme selfishness and taking advantage of others without empathy.
"The dark tetrad are also often related to risk-taking behaviours."
The link between the traits and an affinity for Bitcoin is also driven by the fact that the currency does not have a central authority, meaning it is separate from banks and governments.
Machiavellians – who are good at deception and take a calculated approach to achieving goals – like crypto "primarily because they distrust politicians and government agencies", Dr Wang said.
He added: "Many crypto supporters believe governments are corrupt, and crypto avoids government corruption."
Narcissists, on the other hand, are drawn to the technology because they tend to focus on the positive side of life.
The researchers found that narcissists like crypto because of their great faith in the future and confidence that their own lives will improve.
Lastly, impulsive psychopaths and sadists like crypto because they are thrill-seekers who fear missing out on the rewards of investing.
"To them, perhaps both the pleasure from seeing another’s pain and the fear of missing out are related to selfishness," Dr Wang wrote.
If you're a crypto fan yourself, don't fear – investing doesn't suddenly make you evil.
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"We studied only a subset of people interested in crypto who do have these traits," Dr Wang said.
"If you happen to be a Bitcoin or other crypto holder, you may or may not exhibit them."
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