Crypto owners are more likely to be narcissistic, psychopathic sadists

A recent study analysing what crypto owners believed in came up with some hard truths for those obsessed with cryptocurrencies.

By some estimates, nearly four in 10 Americans own some sort of cryptocurrency. As coverage continues of the crypto space, and mainstream celebrities and public figures – including Donald Trump, who has dubbed himself the “crypto president” if he were elected this year – continue to tout the promises of crypto, that number is likely to rise.

But alongside the risks of losing money from their investments, would-be crypto adherents ought to be aware also of the company they’re joining. A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto along with colleagues from the University of Miami suggests that many crypto obsessives have unusual personality traits – and ones that aren’t always welcomed.

Those that own cryptocurrency, according to the survey of 2,001 American adults, around 30% of whom admitted to owning the assets, are more likely than average to believe conspiracy theories, support political extremism, identify more closely with non-left-right political orientations such as Christian nationalism, and possess the “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits – including narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism.

Curious beliefs

Beyond being more likely to be narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic and sadist, those who espoused a stronger belief in crypto than others were also more likely than not to get their news from fringe social media platforms. Other strongly associated characteristics commonplace among crypto owners included maleness, argumentativeness, having a higher income, and feelings of victimhood.

In some ways, the beliefs and personality traits exhibited by crypto lovers aren’t all that surprising. One of the main reasons that many who invest in cryptocurrency is their suspicion of mainstream, fiat currencies, and their desire to find a more equitable, distributed alternative. They’re more likely to shun the idea that centralised control of the financial system is a good thing, which means they’re equally likely to think that centralised control of the media is a net benefit.

However, those kinds of interests and media diet do also make it more likely that fringe beliefs can take hold in an individual’s personality – which may explain why they are more likely than the average person to believe in conspiracy theories.

A snapshot of society

“Though our results certainly do not apply to every crypto user out there, on average, we found that crypto investment and ownership tends to appeal to people who are more argumentative, anti-authoritarian, and prefer to get their news from non-mainstream social media sites,” the authors write.

Whether that will change as crypto becomes more mainstream, or if owning crypto will indoctrinate those fringe beliefs in anyone who invests in non-fiat currency is yet to be seen. “There is still much work to be done in this area, but we hope our study helps lay the groundwork for future research aimed at understanding the psychological, political, and behavioural factors associated with this growing financial movement.”

But regardless, it poses interesting questions for the adoption of crypto in the years to come – and highlights what people may want to consider before putting all their life savings into the assets that have yo-yoed in value, both up and down, in recent years