ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A new study has found left-wing extremism is linked to psychopathic tendencies and narcissism.

According to the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Psychology, people with toxic personality traits, such as psychopathic tendencies and narcissism, are more likely to endorse left-wing anti-hierarchial aggression.

Anti-hierarchial aggression is a term to refer to a type of hostility that challenges or opposes hierarchical power structures and authority figures.

Left-wing activism spawned firey riots that destroyed downtown areas of major cities in the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

FILE – In this May 29, 2020, file photo, protesters gather in front of a burning fast food restaurant in Minneapolis. An external review of Minnesota’s response to the civil unrest following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd found several weaknesses, including a lack of clear leadership early on as businesses were being destroyed and set ablaze, and a failure to discern peaceful from unlawful protesters.(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The authors also warned, “Minority groups should be made aware of the narcissistic ‘enemies’ from within their activist movement, as these individuals could hijack the cause thereby reducing the success of the activism in many ways.”

The study authors say the new findings shed light on the psychological mechanisms which motivate some people to participate in violent activism.

The majority of research on authoritarianism has focused on right-wing ideologies, resulting in a gap in understanding authoritarianism in those on the political left, the authors said.

But the study found that “individuals who strongly endorse anti-hierarchical aggression to overthrow those in power are narcissistic individuals with psychopathic attributes and thus driven by ego-focused motives,” and that, while narcissists pretend to be pro-social justice, they actually tend to have low empathy.

A protester carries a U.S. flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building, in Minneapolis during protests over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

“An individual high in [left-wing authoritarianism] might declare anyone to be ‘old fashioned’ who is opposing their own ‘progressive values,’ strive to suppress free speech to regulate the expression of right-wing beliefs in educational institutions, and even endorse the use of violence to reach their own political goals,” the authors said.

The authors of the study coined a new term for the behavior, called the “dark-ego-vehicle principal,” which suggests that “individuals with dark personalities – such as high narcissistic and psychopathic traits – are attracted to certain forms of political and social activism which they can use as a vehicle to satisfy their own ego-focused needs instead of actually aiming at social justice and equality,” study authors Dr. Ann Krispenz and Dr. Alexander Bertrams, researchers at the University of Bern, Switzerland, said.

A previous study sought to define left-wing authoritarianism as consisting of three dimensions: anti-conventionalism, top-down censorship, and anti-hierarchial aggression.

A man poses for photos in front of a fire at an AutoZone store, while protesters hold a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Violent protests over the death of the black man in police custody broke out in Minneapolis for a second straight night Wednesday, with protesters in a standoff with officers outside a police precinct and looting of nearby stores. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)

“Authoritarianism can be found on both sides of the political spectrum,” Krispenz and Bertrams said. “Indicators of authoritarianism on the political left are anticonventionalism (i.e., the absolute endorsement of progressive moral values), top-down censorship (i.e., the preference for the use of governmental and institutional authority to suppress any speech that is considered as offensive and intolerant), and antihierarchical aggression (i.e., the motivation to use force and aggression to overthrow established hierarchies).”

“Individuals who strongly endorse anti-hierarchical aggression to overthrow those in power are narcissistic individuals with psychopathic attributes and thus driven by ego-focused motives,” the studies found.

“In particular, certain forms of activism might provide them with opportunities for positive self-presentation and displays of moral superiority, to gain social status, to dominate others, and to engage in social conflicts and aggression to satisfy their need for thrill-seeking,” Krispenz and Bertrams said.