"Machiavellian" redirects here. For the racehorse, see Machiavellian (horse).
Machiavellianism is "the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct". The word comes from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, born in 1469, who wrote Il Principe (The Prince), among other works.
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.
Main article: Niccolò Machiavelli
In the 16th century, immediately following the publication of The Prince, Machiavellianism was seen as a foreign plague infecting northern European politics, originating in Italy, and having first infected France. It was in this context that the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572 in Paris came to be seen as a product of Machiavellianism, a view greatly influenced by the Huguenot Innocent Gentillet, who published his Discours contre Machievel in 1576, which was printed in ten editions in three languages over the next four years. Gentillet held, quite wrongly according to Sydney Anglo, that Machiavelli's "books [were] held most dear and precious by our Italian and Italionized [sic] courtiers" in France (in the words of his first English translation), and so (in Anglo's paraphrase) "at the root of France's present degradation, which has culminated not only in the St Bartholomew massacre but the glee of its perverted admirers". In fact there is little trace of Machiavelli in French writings before the massacre, not that politicians telegraph their intentions in writing, until Gentillet's own book, but this concept was seized upon by many contemporaries, and played a crucial part in setting the long-lasting popular concept of Machiavellianism.
The English playwrights William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe were enthusiastic proponents of this view. Shakespeare's Gloucester, later Richard III, refers to Machiavelli in Henry VI, Part III, for instance:
I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
In The Jew of Malta (1589–90) "Machievel" in person speaks the Prologue, claiming not to be dead, but to have possessed the soul of (the Duke of) Guise, "And, now the Guise is dead, is come from France/ To view this land, and frolic with his friends" (Prologue, lines 3–4). Marlowe's last play, The Massacre at Paris (1593) takes the massacre, and the following years, as its subject, with the Duke of Guise and Catherine de' Medici both depicted as Machiavellian plotters, bent on evil from the start.
The Anti-Machiavel is an 18th-century essay by Frederick the Great, King of Prussia and patron of Voltaire, rebutting The Prince, and Machiavellianism. It was first published in September 1740, a few months after Frederick became king, and is one of many such works.
Denis Diderot, the French philosopher, viewed Machiavellianism as "an abhorrent type of politics" and the "art of tyranny".
Main article: Machiavellian intelligence
Machiavellianism is also a term that some social, forensic and personality psychologists use to describe a person's tendency to be unemotional, and therefore able to detach themself 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 (sometimes referred to as the Machiavelli test). Their Mach - IV test, a twenty-statement personality survey, became the standard self-assessment tool 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," (No. 1) 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. Their basic results have been widely replicated. Measured on the Mach - IV scale, males are, on average, slightly more Machiavellian than females.
A 1992 review described Machiavellian motivation as related to cold selfishness and pure instrumentality, and those high on the trait were assumed to pursue their motives (e.g. sex, achievement, sociality) in duplicitous ways. More recent 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 concerns. High Machs admitted to focusing on unmitigated achievement and winning at any cost.
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 emotional 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.
Relations 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. Machiavellianism has been found to be negatively correlated with Agreeableness (r = −0.47) and Conscientiousness (r = −0.34), two dimensions of the Big Five personality model (NEO-PI-R). However, Machiavellianism correlates more highly with the Honesty-humility dimension of the six-factor HEXACO model than with any of the Big Five dimensions. Machiavellianism has also been located within the interpersonal circumplex, which consists of the two independent dimensions of agency and communion. Agency refers to motivation to succeed and to individuate the self, whereas communion refers to motivation to merge with others and to support group interests. Machiavellianism lies in the quadrant of the circumplex defined by high agency and low communion. Machiavellianism has been found to lie diagonally opposite from a circumplex construct called self-construal, a tendency to prefer communion over agency. This suggests that 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.
In 2002, the Machiavellianism scale of Christie and Geis was applied by behavioral game theorists Anna Gunnthorsdottir, Kevin McCabe and Vernon L. Smith in their search for explanations for the spread of observed behavior in experimental games, in particular individual choices which do not correspond to assumptions of material self-interest captured by the standard Nash equilibrium prediction. It was found that in a trust game, those with high MACH-IV scores tended to follow homo economicus' equilibrium strategies while those with low MACH-IV scores tended to deviate from the equilibrium, and instead made choices that reflected widely accepted moral standards and social preferences.
Although there have been myriad proposed factor structures, two dimensions emerge most consistently within factor-analytic research - differentiating Machiavellian views from tactics. Although the Mach-IV scale is unable to reliably capture the two dimensions, a 10-item subset of the scale known as the Two-Dimensional Mach-IV (TDM-V), reproduces the views and tactics dimensions across countries and sample types. The views dimension appears to capture the neurotic, narcissistic, pessimistic, and distrustful aspects of Machiavellianism, while the tactics component captures the more psychopathic, unconscientious/impulsive, self-serving, and deceitful behavioural aspects.
In the workplace
Main article: Machiavellianism 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 manipulativeleadership, and morally bankrupt tactics. It has in recent times been adapted and applied to the context of the workplace and organizations by many writers and academics. The Machiavellian typically only manipulates on occasions where it is necessary to achieve the required objectives.
Oliver James identifies Machiavellianism as one of the dark triadic personality traits in the workplace, the others being narcissism and psychopathy.
A new model of Machiavellianism based in organizational settings consists of three factors:
- maintaining power
- harsh management tactics
- manipulative behaviors
The presence of Machiavellianism in an organisation has been positively correlated with counterproductive workplace behaviour and workplace deviance.
- ^the Oxford English Dictionary "Machiavellian" as a word became very popular in the late 16th century in English, though "Machiavellianism" itself is first cited in 1626.
- ^ abcdefgJones, Daniel N.; Paulhus, Delroy L. (2009). "Chapter 7. Machiavellianism". In Leary, Mark R.; Hoyle, Rick H. Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior. New York/London: The Guilford Press. pp. 257–273. ISBN 978-1-59385-647-2.
- ^Anglo, 283 – see also the whole chapter
- ^Anglo, 286
- ^Anglo, Chapters 10 and 11; p. 328 etc.
- ^Project Gutenberg Jew of Malta text
- ^Diderot, Denis (ascribed by Jacques Proust). "Machiavellianism." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Timothy Cleary. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2004. Trans. of "Machiavelisme," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 9. Paris, 1765. Accessed 31 March 2015.
- ^Christie, R., and F. L. Geis. (1970) "How devious are you? Take the Machiavelli test to find out." Journal of Management in Engineering 15.4: 17.
- ^ abChristie, R. & Geis, F. (1970) "Studies in Machiavellianism". NY: Academic Press.
- ^McIlwain, D. 2003. Bypassing empathy: mapping a Machiavellian theory of mind and sneaky power. In Individual Differences In Theory Of Mind, eds. B. Repacholi and V. Slaughter. Macquarie Monographs in Cognitive Science. NY: Psychology Press. 39-68.
- ^ abGunnthorsdottir, A., McCabe, K. & Smith, V. 2002 "Using the Machiavellianism instrument to predict trustworthiness in a bargaining game". Journal of Economic Psychology 23, 49-66
- ^Goleman, Daniel (2006). Social Intelligence.
- ^ abPaulhus, D. L. & Williams, K. M. 2002. "The Dark Triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy". Journal of Research in Personality 36 (2002) 556–563.
- ^Fehr, B.; Samsom, D.; and Paulhus, D. L., 1992. The Construct of Machiavellianism: Twenty Years Later. In C. D. Spielberger & J. N. Butcher (Eds), Advances in Personality Assessment (Vol 9), pp. 77–116. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- ^Monaghan, C., Bizumic, B., & Sellbom, M. (2016). The role of Machiavellian views and tactics in psychopathology. Personality and Individual Differences, 94, 72–81.
- ^ abcKessler, SR; Bandeiii, AC; Spector, PE; Borman, WC; Nelson, CE; and Penney, LM 2010. Reexamining Machiavelli: A three dimensional model of Machiavellianism in the workplace. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 1868–1896
- ^James O Office Politics: How to Thrive in a World of Lying, Backstabbing and Dirty Tricks (2013)
- Anglo, Sydney. Machiavelli – the First Century: Studies in Enthusiasm, Hostility, and Irrelevance, p. 229, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-19-926776-6, ISBN 978-0-19-926776-7Google Books
- Spielberger, Charles D; Butcher, James N. Advances in Personality Assessment, vol. 9. (Hillsdale, NJ): Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992
I recently came across this comment while reading restaurant reviews on Yelp:
The seafood was cooked well for the most part, and I have no complaints other than the price. It's my fault. When I called ahead I should have asked for the price of the buffet—my bad. Or if they want to be nice, they should post it somewhere, like on the menu? Or the sign outside? Just throwing out suggestions.
This reviewer fell prey to good marketing. (By “good,” I mean well-planned and well-executed, not good in the ethical sense.)
This restaurant didn’t lie or misrepresent its fare. By the diner’s own admission, the meal was tasty. The reviewer reports “no complaints” about food or service. And yet the customer was victimized by the restaurant’s calculated concealment of cost until the check was presented. The price of this buffet, by the way, is $33.95 per person.
Many of us would never return to a business that snookered us and like this customer, we’d probably spread the word. The restaurant in this review caters to tourists and probably doesn’t count on repeat business. It appears to operate on the theory of “fleece ‘em while you got ‘em.”
I’m a former marketing professor and I still teach marketing courses from time to time. Marketing encompasses such important decisions as where to locate your business or sell your product, how to price goods and services, how to let people know about your products or services, and so on. But media-saturated consumers and the hyper-competitive marketplace make marketing a costly, high-stakes gamble. This incentivizes ethically (and sometimes legally) dubious promotional activities that can victimize even savvy consumers.
Here are more examples of victimization via good marketing, also taken from Yelp:
A take-out food business:
Worst service in the world. Bought a Groupon. Came to pick up my [order] and the woman there said she couldn't do anything for me because the lady that knows how to do Groupon is only here Monday through Friday. Nowhere on the Groupon does it say only Monday through Friday.
That may be an example of incompetence and mismanagement, but it’s good marketing (i.e., a well-planned and well-executed Groupon promotion). All that’s lacking is the actual fulfillment of the promises made in the promotion.
A retail establishment:
I spent an hour to go outta [sic] my way to get some [merchandise] here, only to find this place closed during its stated business hours and the "open" signs still hanging. I ignored the other reviews about poor service. Don't make my mistake.
A sandwich café:
I used to love this place, having been literally dozens of times. But, now don't waste your time or money going here…The worst part was the food handling. Just disgusting. They are not using gloves and handling money while making your food, never once washing their hands. That's just gross. Plus they were rude when we went there today, which doesn't affect the food but certainly affects my experience. I won't go back. This place went from the best to the worst in just a few years.
An ethnic market:
Horribly disgusting. They are the only ones who stock the sauces we were after or else we would never go there. From the aisles to the produce department to the seafood section, basically, the whole place is covered in a layer of dust that just turns you off any unpackaged food. Be sure to wash all your produce down before you eat them. The seafood section just frightens me. The workers hack the fish to bits without any kind of protection or cleanliness other than a hose. It is hard to watch and definitely impossible to want anything from there.
Bad marketing sometimes snares the gullible, but most of us are savvy enough to avoid cons such as “eat all you want and still lose weight!” It’s the good marketing that lures us in. When well-planned and well-executed promotions mask a hidden agenda of half-truths and concealed flaws, then we may fall prey to Machiavellian marketing.