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Previous research on BDSM (bondage-discipline, domination-submission, sadomasochism) tends to treat practitioners as a homogenous group and lumps dominants (desire to take control) and submissives (desire to be controlled) together. Research suggests that personality traits, such as extraversion, relate to a variety of sexual attitudes and behaviours. To date, the research on personality and BDSM is scant and often does not distinguish BDSM preferences. The current study compared BDSM practitioners with self-identified preferences for dominance to those preferring submission on their self-reported levels of desire for control, empathy, honesty-humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, altruism, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. BDSM practitioners (n = 270; 80 dominants and 190 submissives) completed an online questionnaire package. Dominants scored significantly higher than submissives on desire for control, extraversion, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Submissives scored significantly higher than dominants on emotionality. Dominants and submissives did not differ on empathy, honesty-humility, conscientiousness, openness to experience, altruism, or agreeableness. These findings demonstrate that there are unique features that characterize BDSM practitioners who prefer the dominant and submissive orientations.