Machiavellianism is “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct”.
In modern psychology, Machiavellianism is one of the dark triad personalities, characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style, a cynical disregard for morality and a focus on self-interest and personal gain.
Machiavellianism is also a term that some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person’s tendency to be unemotional, and therefore able to detach him or herself from conventional morality and hence to deceive and manipulate others.
In the 1960s, Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis developed a test for measuring a person’s level of Machiavellianism People scoring high on the scale (high Machs) tend to endorse statements such as, “Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to do so,” but not ones like, “Most people are basically good and kind” (No. 4), “There is no excuse for lying to someone else,” (No. 7) or “Most people who get ahead in the world lead clean, moral lives” (No. 11). Using their scale, Christie and Geis conducted multiple experimental tests that showed that the interpersonal strategies and behavior of “High Machs” and “Low Machs” differ.
Due to their skill at interpersonal manipulation, there has often been an assumption that high Machs possess superior intelligence, or ability to understand other people in social situations. However, research has firmly established that Machiavellianism is unrelated to IQ.
Furthermore, studies on emotional intelligence have found that high Machiavellianism actually tends to be associated with low emotional intelligence as assessed by both performance and questionnaire measures.
Both empathy and emotion recognition have been shown to have negative correlations with Machiavellianism. Additionally, research has shown that Machiavellianism is unrelated to a more advanced theory of mind, that is, the ability to anticipate what others are thinking in social situations.
If high Machs actually are skilled at manipulating others this appears to be unrelated to any special cognitive abilities as such.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER PERSONALITY TRAITS
Machiavellianism is one of the three personality traits referred to as the dark triad, along with narcissism and psychopathy. Some psychologists consider Machiavellianism to be essentially a subclinical form of psychopathy, although recent research suggests that while Machiavellianism and psychopathy overlap, they are distinct personality constructs.
However, Machiavellianism correlates more highly with the Honesty-humility dimension of the six-factor HEXACO model than with any of the Big Five dimensions.
IN THE WORKPLACE
Machiavellianism in the workplace is the employment of cunning and duplicity in a business setting. It is an increasingly studied phenomenon. The root of the concept of Machiavellianism is the book The Prince by Machiavelli which lays out advice to rulers how to govern their subjects. Machiavellianism has been studied extensively over the past 40 years as a personality characteristic that shares features with manipulative leadership tactics.
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