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Machiavellianism is the term some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person's tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain. The concept is named after Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote Il Principe (The Prince).
In 1970 Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis developed a Machiavellianism Scale, a personality measure assessing a person's level of Machiavellianism. This eventually became the MACH-IV test, a twenty-statement personality inventory that is now the standard self-assessment tool of Machiavellianism. People scoring above 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered high Machs; that is, they endorsed 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). People scoring below 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered low Machs; they tend to believe, "There is no excuse for lying to someone else," (No. 7) and, "Most people who get ahead in the world lead clean, moral lives" (No. 11). The Kiddie Mach Test is a machiavellian scale for children
High Machs tend to take a more detached, calculating approach in their interaction with other people. They tend to believe most people are concerned only with their own well-being and to depend too much on anyone else is foolish. They believe the best way to get by is to use deception, rewards, promises, flattery, and even punishments to manipulate others into doing their bidding. To them, power may be more important than love.
Robert Altemeyer found a correlation between Social dominance orientation and Machiavellianism.
Low Machs tend to take a more personal, empathetic approach in their interaction with other people. They tend to be more trusting of others and more honest. They believe humans are essentially good natured. At the extreme, low Machs are passive, submissive, and highly agreeable.
- Paulhus Personality Lab - Dark Triad Abstracts is a collection of research and presentations about the Dark Triad of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy.
- Salon Books Machiavelli Personality Test is an interactive version of the MACH-IV test of Machiavellianism.
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