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In cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, Machiavellian intelligence (political intelligence or social intelligence), is the capacity of an entity in successful political engagement with social groups. The term refers to Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince (1513) and the hypothesis that the techniques which lead to certain kinds of political success within large social groups are also applicable within smaller groups, even within the family-unit. The term "everyday politics" was later introduced in reference to these various methods. These arguments are based on research by primatologists such as Nicholas Humphrey (1975).

Such behaviors include:

The capacity of non-humans to lie, blame, misdirect and mislead was demonstrated by orang-utans and gorillas during the 1980s and 1990s.


Some theorists believe that autistic people lack Machiavellian intelligence. One hypothesis is that they lack a "theory of mind" which is necessary for both cooperation and deceit.

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