Machiavellianism is a personality trait centered on manipulativeness, callousness, and indifference to morality.

People who score high on this trait, named after the political philosophy of Niccolò Machiavelli, are callous, lack morality, and are excessively motivated by self-interest.

The Likert-scale personality survey, is the standard self-assessment tool and scale of the Machiavellianism construct. 

Those who score high on the scale (High Machs) are more likely to have a high level of deceitfulness and a cynical, unempathetic temperament.

They possess the following characteristics:

1. A relative lack of affect in interpersonal relationships: do not empathize with their victims. 

The more empathy one has, the less likely one will manipulate a person to do their bidding.

2. A lack of concern for conventional morality: 

The manipulator is not concerned with the morality of behaviors such as lying and cheating.

3. A lack of psychopathology: Manipulators usually have an instrumentalist view of the world, which shows a lack of psychosis or other mental impairments.

4. Low ideological commitment.

Characteristics that underlie the construct:

Antagonism: manipulativeness, cynicism, selfishness, callousness, and arrogance.

Planfulness: deliberation and orderliness.

Agency: achievement-striving, assertiveness, self-confidence, emotional invulnerability, activity and competence.

Machiavellianism has both significantly genetic and environmental influences.

Machiavellianism is heritable to a substantial degree, but it can also influenced by the shared-environment slightly more than narcissism and psychopathy.

The co-occurrence of alexithymia and Machiavellianism was most heavily influenced by genetic factors, and to a lesser but significant extent by non-shared environmental factors.

Machiavellianism is also heavily correlated with primary psychopathy which is itself strongly heritable.

Children who score highly on the Machiavellianism scale tend to be more successful in manipulation, do it more frequently, and are judged as better at manipulation than those who score lower.

Children develop Machiavellian traits on their own as time progresses.

Machiavellianism is correlated with childhood aggression.

The levels of Machiavellianism: From adolescence throughout adulthood there is a significant and steady downward trend with regard to levels of Machiavellianism, until the age of 65 where an overall lifetime minimum is reached.

Research on the motivations of high Machs compared to low Machs found that they gave high priority to money, power, and competition and relatively low priority to community building, self-love, and family commitment. 

High Machs admitted to focusing on unmitigated achievement and winning at any cost.

High Machs are willing to achieve their goals by bending and breaking rules, cheating, and stealing.

People high in Machiavellianism are able to easily switch between working with others to taking advantage of others to achieve their goals, and they are more willing to do things others see as terrible or immoral.

There is often been an assumption that high Machs possess superior intelligence, or ability to understand other people in social situations.

High Machiavellianism is usually associated with low emotional intelligence as assessed by both performance and questionnaire measures.

Both emotional empathy and emotion recognition have been shown to have negative correlations with Machiavellianism.

Individuals high in Machiavellianism may, have certain cognitive and social skills that enable them to properly adapt to the challenges of environmental circumstances, being incredibly perceptive to the presence of others, and feign altruism to enhance their reputation.

It has been proposed that narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy are more or less interchangeable.

Many psychologists consider Machiavellianism to be essentially indistinguishable from psychopathy, as they both share manipulative tendencies and cold callousness as their primary attributes: Both psychopaths and Machiavellians score low on conscientiousness and agreeableness, and they often are dismissive of social norms and ethics.

Individuals high in Machiavellianism and narcissism both manipulate to improve their reputations, and how they appear to others.

Individuals high in Machiavellianism and narcissism  do this as a form of self aggrandizement to help their chances of success in a given situation.

Machiavellianism scores were positively associated with aspects of narcissism such as entitlement and exploitativeness, and inversely associated with adaptive narcissistic tendencies, like self-sufficiency.

Machiavellians are more realistic about their character, while narcissists are less realistic about theirs.

Compared to High Machs, narcissists are less malevolent and show a more socially positive personality. 

Narcissists also have higher levels of self-rated happiness.

Individuals high in Machiavellianism may be more willing to engage in white collar crimes.

Machiavellianism is the main trait for con artists.

Mach-IV scores are negatively correlated with agreeableness and conscientiousness two dimensions of the “big five” personality model.

Machiavellianism isb defined by high agency and low communion.

People high in Machiavellianism do not simply wish to achieve, they wish to do so at the expense of, or at least without regard to others.

There are two distinct types of empathy which people use to relate to each other: hot and cold empathy. 

Cold empathy refers to the understanding of how others might react to one’s actions or a certain event. 

Hot empathy refers to the emotional reaction others might have to the emotions of another person. 

People high in Machiavellianism tend to have a better understanding of cold empathy.

 They do not feel hot empathy which explains why they seem cold and uncaring.

Some studies have suggested that Machiavellians are deficient only at the level of affective empathy (sharing of emotions), whereas their cognitive empathy is intact, even high.

High Machs are less likely to be altruistic, and they are less likely to be concerned with the problems of others.[96]

Alexithymia is correlated heavily with Machiavellianism.

Alexithymia is  the lack of awareness of one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

Healthy alexithymic individuals have been found to obtain high Machiavellianism scores.

One of the core traits of Machiavellianism is unemotionality, similar to what alexithymics experience.

Machiavellianism behavior in the workplace associated with this flattery, deceit, coercion, and the abuse of others through one’s position of leadership.

These behaviors in the workplace are ultimately done to advance personal interests.

One’s level of Machiavellianism can be a major factor where workplace manipulation is involved because this trait can have an effect on the ability for an individual to fit in.

Individuals with Dark Triad traits are drawn to entrepreneurship, with  qualities found  needed for effective entrepreneurship, such as confidence, charisma and risk taking.

High Machs are unlikely to succeed in the long term simply by manipulating others, and that some cooperation is necessary for further success and to avoid a situation in which they are retaliated against.

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