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Is a concept of machiavellianism useful?

Is a concept of machiavellianism useful?


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I can't be classified by wikipedia as someone clearly machiavellian (I'm hedonist (in the sence of general pleasure/pain, not only physical) and try not to hurt other people). Yet, I managed to score 80 on MACH-IV. But I doubt that questions are well selected. In fact almost every question is ambiguous or ill-posed (it's sometimes about belief that everyone is a kind person, I'm not an ultra-optimist, I'm realist and sometimes just about being average person).

By the way, I could not see anything in this test that could reveal machiavellian traits. Moreover, most study show only a weak correlation between them and high score in test. The real correlation is around .2 if not lower, which makes it unreliable.

What I'm thinking is that people with similar [to mine] philosophy also can score higher than average just for similar reasons. And it's completely weird, since philosophies are too different.


Well, for example, I know that concepts of narcissism (but NPI still has around of half useless questions in my opinion) and psychopathy are much better defined and appropriate tests seem to be more accurate. Yet, if there is another type of personality, that may ruin lifes of other people, it can't be revealed by MACH-IV.

In fact statistics show that mean score is around 67 or so, which is considered as high Mach. If majority are high Machs, then there is no dark triad. Also, the form of graph is symmetrical, while form of graph on NPI test is highly assymmetrical.

So, is it just a canard or is there some evidence, that such personality type exists (and it is something that is useful in terms of psychology)? (Of course, some people may treat themselves as the only really clever ones, who should rule the world, but yet think that they look as average person; which is some kind of narcissism).


What I'm going to say here pertains mostly to your previous question on this topic, rather than this one, which does strike me as a bit of knee-jerk reaction, however, it might help with this one as well.

Mach-IV has, by design, four main factors but in opposite pairs, so only two main sub-scales, which are added for the total score

  • negative (vs. positive) interpersonal tactics
  • cynical (vs. positive) view of human nature

You can actually look up how the individual questions load into these factors, for instance Table 2 in this paper, the full text of which is freely available. It is possible to score high on one but not the other sub-scale. There are also to two odd questions about Morality in the Mach-IV, but this is a rather poorly designed part of the test. Mach-IV has an overall degree of internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) of 0.7 (mentioned in that paper), which is borderline acceptable.

There is a newer Machiavellianism test that has seen some adoption, called Machiavellian Personality Scale--MPS (2009) which you might be able to find/take; the authors have made it freely available. MPS has more independent scales:

  • Distrust of Others (five items)
  • Desire for Status (three items),
  • Desire for Control (three items)
  • Amorality (five items).

As for usefulness, I don't know of real-world uses of Mach-IV outside of research. It's not like you won't land a job at Best Buy by failing it; actually machiavelianism might help you score such a job, but I'm digressing too mcuh already.


Authentic and Inauthentic Ethical Leadership

In the second study, we address whether demonstrated ethical leadership is always genuine and value-based, and we propose that highly manipulative Machiavellians may try to enact an ethical image if they feel this benefits them. Measures of ethical leadership rely on perceptions of the behavior of the leader by followers, thus they reflect a measure of perceived ethicality, yet whether such behaviors are always an authentic expression of morality of leaders is not clear. Here, we argue that outward ethical behavior can be seen as inauthentic if leaders privately hold inner norms and values that differ from their publicly demonstrated values and behaviors. Specifically, we refer here to the difference between privately held Machiavellian norms and values and publicly shown ethical conduct and behavior as a Machiavellian personality represents a deceitful and unethical value system which opposes moral values of ethical leaders. Machiavellianism is a strategy of social conduct that involves manipulating others for personal gain (Wilson et al. 1996). Machiavellians are seen as manipulators and cheaters who reduce the social capital of a group or organization (e.g., Gunnthorsdottir et al. 2002 Paulhus and Williams 2002). For example, Machiavellianism is positively related to salespersons’ willingness to lie (Ross and Robertson 2000). Obviously, manipulating, cheating and lying do not come to mind as ethical behaviors of leaders. Brown and Treviño (2006) state: “In contrast to ethical leaders, Machiavellian leaders are motivated to manipulate others in order to accomplish their own goals. They have little trust in people and, in turn, tend not to be trusted by others” (p. 604). They hold that coercion and manipulation are not ethical sources of influence, and leaders who employ these tactics are unlikely to be seen as attractive ethical models by their followers. Coercion and manipulation are inconsistent with social learning which rests on the assumption that observers can freely select models to observe and emulate. Therefore, Brown and Treviño (2006) propose Machiavellianism and ethical leadership are negatively related.

However, this negative relationship between Machiavellianism and ethical leadership assumes that Machiavellians are always obvious in the expression of this trait, and that it is always clearly visible to subordinates that they are being lied to or manipulated. This is not necessarily the case though. Several researchers note that Machiavellians are able to show both pro-social and coercive strategies to successfully attain their goals (e.g., Hawley 2003). Machiavellians are adept at forming alliances and collaborate with others to promote their own interests. Machiavellian leaders are good liars and skilled at creating a desirable image (DePaulo and Rosenthal 1979). For example, Deluga (2001) found that Machiavellianism was positively related to charisma and perceived greatness of past US presidents. Machiavellians do not always engage in deception and manipulation. Rather, they are adaptable and may also invest in pro-organizational activities. They may act in a friendly and cooperative manner if they see this as beneficial to themselves (Wilson et al. 1996, p. 295). Machiavellians engage in impression management (Becker and O’Hair 2007) and they have been shown to be highly self-interested, goal driven, and emotionally detached from their (inter-)actions which leaves them able to fully focus on goal achievement (e.g., Cooper and Peterson 1980).

In many firms, the pressure of leaders to behave ethically has increased as public scrutiny is up due to the financial crisis and repeated ethical failures that were also in part caused by selfish, unethical management behavior, and businesses cannot afford more scandals. As more firms are creating explicit integrity or ethics norms and implementing codes of conduct, at least outwardly acting in an ethical way may be needed to be able to be successful as a manager, and showing ethical leader behavior may be required more explicitly than before. This suggests that showing ethical leadership can perhaps increasingly also be viewed as an expressed or public identity that is not necessarily commensurate with privately held norms and beliefs. In other words, displays of ethical leader behavior may not always be an authentic expression of identity and traits. The literature on emotional work/emotional labor (e.g., Zapf 2002) notes that individuals often ‘act’ in their workplace in the sense that privately felt and publicly expressed emotions differ from each other. Similarly, we propose Machiavellians may demonstrate or ‘act’ ethical leader behaviors when they feel this benefits them. Given that Machiavellians are characterized by a strong impression management motive (Bolino and Turnley 2003 Becker and O’Hair 2007), they are likely to show such ethical leader behavior if they see that as the best route to create a good reputation and attain their goals. In this sense, it is possible that Machiavellians invest in outwardly enacting ethical leader behaviors to manage the impression of others and come across better.

In the work on transformational and charismatic leadership, a similar question has been raised on the role of leader morals. For example, a distinction has been made between authentic and pseudo-transformational leaders (Bass and Steidlmeier 1999 Barling et al. 2008 Parry and Proctor-Thomson 2002). Authentic transformational leaders are characterized by behavior that is “true for themselves and for others”, that is, these leaders are willing to sacrifice their personal goals for collective goals and truly aim for the greater good. Pseudo-transformational leaders do not “practice what they preach”, i.e., they do not transform their individual goals into collective goals and are not willing to sacrifice their self-interests. This distinction also mirrors earlier work by Howell and Avolio (1992) who similarly distinguish between personalized charismatic leaders motivated by self-interests and personal power versus socialized charismatic leaders who are concerned for the common good. As Bass and Steidlmeier (1999, p. 186) note: “It is the presence or absence of such a moral foundation of the leader as a moral agent that grounds the distinction between authentic versus pseudo-transformational leadership.” Thus, while the outwardly focused behaviors of leaders may be the same, the moral foundation may differ across different leaders.

Drawing on this tradition, we posit in an analogous way that leaders who show similar ethical leader behavior may be authentic or inauthentic, that is, they may be non-manipulative and have personally strong ethical norms (Non-Machiavellians) or they may be strongly manipulative and have rather unethical norms (Machiavellians). As Dasborough and Ashkanasy (2002) note it is hard for followers to see the difference between authentic and non-authentic leaders as while the intentions of such leaders differ, the behaviors they display are highly similar. Here, we test whether followers indeed are able to pick up on authentic or less-authentic displays of ethical leadership. We investigate how followers react in case of conflicts between the leader’s expressed, public identity (perceived ethical leader behavior) and their private identity (leader Machiavellian personality). Followers may recognize signals of leaders’ underlying motives and moral foundation if they are not in line with their behavior. Consistently, Barling et al. (2008) found that followers show significantly different (more negative) emotional and attitudinal reactions to pseudo-transformational leadership than to authentic transformational leadership.

The literature on emotional work similarly notes that authentic expression of emotions is perceived differently and more positively by others than “faking” emotions (surface acting: expressing emotions that differ from one’s real inner feelings) (Hochschild 1983 Ashforth and Humphrey 1993 Zapf 2002). We therefore suggest that the positive impact of ethical leader behavior on engagement is reduced for those leaders for who private identity and expressed identity are not in line (in other words, when Machiavellians are acting as ethical leaders). The inauthenticity of showing ethical behavior and publicly stressing values that are not privately held may shine through thereby making the expression of ethical leader behavior less powerful in its impact on others (Zapf 2002). We therefore hypothesize that the relationship between ethical leadership and follower work engagement is moderated by leaders’ scores on Machiavellianism. Specifically, if ethical behavior is inauthentic (that is displayed by manipulative and deceitful Machiavellians) the positive relationship between shown ethical leader behavior and follower engagement is likely to be weaker than if ethical behavior is authentic (shown by non-manipulative Non-Machiavellians). Thus, we further build on the mediation model above by introducing leader Machiavellianism as moderator in a moderated mediation model. Thus, we hypothesize:

Hypothesis 5

The mediated relationship of ethical leadership with both initiative and counterproductive behavior will be moderated by leader Machiavellianism. Specifically, the relationship between ethical leadership and follower work engagement will be weaker for high Machiavellian than for low Machiavellian leaders.


The Dark Triad Personality Test [Free Quiz]

Have you ever heard of a personality test titled "The Dark Triad"? Sounds a bit evil, right?

When people take personality tests, the results are typically positive or neutral. There is nothing particularly disappointing about your Myers-Briggs score “thinkers” or “perceivers,” for example, are relatively neutral terms. But not all traits are positive. Some traits are negative and are generally attributed to people who do negative things.

The Dark Triad looks at these negative traits. Psychologists have developed tests to determine whether or not these traits exist and potentially spot dangerous people.

Want to learn more about the Dark Triad? Paulhus and Williams’ research on the subject is a great place to start. You should also consider reading This is more recent book on the subject.


What Is Machiavellianism? (with pictures)

Machiavelli was a diplomat in Florence, Italy, who was born in 1469. He was also a writer of both fictional works and philosophical works, some of which display his attitude toward diplomacy, which still bears his name. Machiavellianism is a form of interaction with other people that has, at its core, the idea that unscrupulous means are acceptable if those means result in personal gain.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Machiavelli rejected the concept that authority is inextricably linked to morality. Instead, whoever has the power at the time, no matter how he or she wields that power, still has the authority. For this reason, people who try to gain power do not necessarily require morals, which may, in fact, get in the way of acquiring that power.

Famous books that Machiavelli wrote include The Prince and Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy. These books focus on political theory, and The Prince, especially, focuses on Machiavellianism as a form of political practicality. His views promote the use of means other than the psychological authority of a moral right for the acquisition of power and for the person in power to then hang onto that power. These means include lying, keeping information back, manipulation, and violence. Although primarily associated with political systems, Machiavellianism may also be used by regular people in everyday situations.

Psychologists use a system of questionnaires to identify someone's Machiavellianism, or "Mach" score. A subject fills in attitudes toward statements such as "Keep the reason for what you do to yourself unless it helps you to say why you do something." A high score correlates with the ability of the person to manipulate others. These people may also be perceived by others as charming and smart. They also tend to be less helpful than low Mach scorers, unless it suits their purposes at the time.

An example of Machiavellianism in politics is the coercion of a population through the threat and use of force. This may occur in situations such as military coups. Another example of Machiavellianism is to deceive voters in a democratic system as to a politician's character in order for that politician to gain power, in which position he or she can then manipulate the system for his or her own gain.

Outside of formal politics, people engage in personal politics, and here, too, Machiavellians can improve their circumstances through deceit and actions outside what is considered moral. Research studies on the Machiavellian tendencies of the general population have used various situations to figure out the manner in which Machiavellians promote their own welfares over the welfare of others. Machiavellian kids who were told they would get money for each bad-tasting cracker their partners ate attempted to manipulate their partners through lies and neglecting to mention the crackers were disgusting despite the fact that their partners would feel bad after eating them. Adults with high Mach scores may be more persuasive and more likely to steal and cheat in order to gain money and power at the expense of others.


Psychopathy

The second Dark Triad characteristic is called psychopathy, which has been called an “antisocial" personality. We need to be clear that this does not mean what people usually mean when they say antisocial, which is better classed as asocial (i.e., introverted, not wanting to be around others). What antisocial means in this context is the opposite of pro-social. That means that an antisocial person is generally actively harmful towards others—or perhaps just highly self-focused rather than other-focused.

Psychopathy shares with Machiavellianism a lack of empathy, but is combined with impulsiveness. Psychopaths are risk-takers who do what they want in the moment. I’ve described psychopathy as probably the darkest of the Dark Triad. Psychopaths don’t experience guilt or shame to the degree that most people do—they experience lower levels of anxiety than average as well.

This could be an advantage if your work requires unpleasant actions. In the premiere episode of House of Cards, main character Frank Underwood sums this up well, saying: “Moments like this require someone like me. Someone who will act. Who will do what no one else has the courage to do. Someone who will do the unpleasant thing. The necessary thing.”

In business, the psychopath’s comparative lack of feelings of remorse could make it easier to fire people during downsizing, or even just for thrills, as network executive Jack Donaghy memorably demonstrated on 30 Rock:

Jack: Fire her. And don’t ever make me talk to a woman that old again.
Liz: I can’t fire Rosemary!
Jack: Sure you can. It’s easy. Observe: Jonathan, you’re fired.

Jack clearly has no remorse when it comes to firing people.


Machiavellianism: Dimensionality of the Mach IV and its Relation to Self-Monitoring in a Spanish Sample

The aim of this study was to assess the measurement model of a Spanish version of the Mach IV Scale (Christie, 1970b), used to measure Machiavellianism, and its relation with the Self-Monitoring Scale (Snyder & Gangestad, 1986). 346 undergraduate students (70 males and 276 females) filled in both scales. The results of confirmatory factor analyses showed a four-factor structure to be the most adequate model for the Mach IV, with the following factors: Positive Interpersonal Tactics, Negative Tactics, Positive View of Human Nature, and Cynical View of Human Nature. These results are not in accordance with the original factor structure but are consistent with other authors' findings. A structural model between Machiavellianism and self-monitoring was tested, showing statistically significant paths between interpersonal tactics and one self-monitoring subscale.

El objetivo de este estudio fue evaluar el modelo de medida de una versión española de la escala Mach IV (Christie, 1970b), utilizada para medir el maquiavelismo, y su relación con la escala de Auto-observación (Snyder & Gangestad, 1986). 346 estudiantes universitarios (70 hombres y 276 mujeres) completaron ambas escalas. Los resultados de los análisis factoriales confirmatorios realizados mostraron que, para el Mach IV, el modelo más adecuado era una estructura de cuatro factores: Tácticas Interpersonales Positivas, Tácticas Interpersonales Negativas, Visión Positiva de la Naturaleza Humana y Visión Cínica de la Naturaleza Humana. Estos resultados difieren de la estructura factorial original, pero son congruentes con las aportaciones de otros autores. Se sometió a prueba un modelo estructural entre maquiavelismo y auto-observación, encontrando relaciones estadísticamente significativas entre tácticas interpersonales y una subescala de auto-observación.


What Machiavelli can teach you about leadership

The thoughts on ruthless leadership by Italian politician and writer Niccolò Machiavelli resonate today.

The Italian Renaissance thinker Niccolò Machiavelli is considered one of the seminal figures in modern political science, even though his most important text The Prince was written in 1513. In the book he described a certain kind of behavior that's come to be regarded as a manual for powerful rulers. The book has been so influential that the word “Machiavellian" became an adjective synonymous with immoral, brutal politicians.

While he was a politician and diplomat in Florence, Machiavelli was not known as a ruthless, cunning manipulator himself. Rather, a lot of his insight was informed by the actions of the powerful families of his day like the Borgias and the Medicis. The lessons of his book are rooted in realism and can be useful to any leader. Granted, there are some aspects of Machiavelli's teachings that are surely controversial and should be viewed in light of their historical context.

Here are some key ideas to take to heart:

1. The end justifies the means

Machiavelli often gets credit for saying this classic quote about consequentialism which says that a morally right act is one that causes a positive outcome. But the way you get to that goal is not important and can be immoral.

While he expressed such a sentiment in other ways, Machiavelli didn't actually say this famous maxim. What he did think was more nuanced, proposing that people don't necessarily want to focus on the details and tend to judge leaders by results. In fact, Machiavelli's thoughts describe how a modern politician might deal with the media, which can be baited and confused by strong actions. Does anyone come to mind as you read this from Chapter 18 of The Prince:

[M]en judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.

For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on.

While his advice might apply well to corporate leaders as well as political, we can see the limitations of such approaches when confronted with the social media outrage culture. Like the United Airlines fiasco recently showed, some “means" will be called out and debated. In the political sphere, however, especially in a hyper-partisan atmosphere, the methods might often be argued but the results of actions will likely overwhelm any details.

2. It's better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both

He didn't say it exactly the way it's been spread around the Internet. His exact quote in chapter 17 was:

The advice here can certainly be taken to extremes, with visions of authoritarian figures ruling through intimidation and secret police. Taken on a broader basis, the idea is that fear is simpler to maintain for a ruler than love, which can be fickle. The key is to avoid being hated, which is when people can really turn against you.

How do you instill that fear? Machiavelli maintained that the “dread of punishment" was important for a smart prince to institute. Cruelty was also some times necessary. Very much a law and order kind of guy, Machiavelli called for strong examples to be made of offenders as lessons to others:

3. Strong public outreach/propaganda

In chapter 15, Machiavelli talks about qualities that a leader should appear to possess and thus would need to cultivate in some measure. When talking about things that would bring a prince praise or blame, the Italian thinker describes it this way:

How many of these characteristics are still true for modern politicians or corporate leaders?

Basically, no matter what you do to stay in power, one aspect to not neglect is strong public relations. Good leaders must appear to have certain characteristics even if they don't actually have them. The case of the tone-deaf United Airlines CEO's initial response to the outrage over a passenger dragged out of their plane comes to mind.

4. “It is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves."

This passage means that some times a leader can't always respond by brute force and must act with insight to recognize the any traps. But against other opponents, like against “the wolves," a leader should be ready to show strength of a “lion" to gain respect.

In other words, know your weak spots, be cunning, and ruthless when necessary.

5. Build an enduring leadership structure and strong team

Machiavelli saw that a strong prince is ultimately as good as his "servants".

He says that if such "men" around the prince are “capable and faithful," then the prince will be considered wise. Otherwise, if the servants are failing, it's the prince's “error" for choosing such help.


8. Lord Petyr Baelish - The 'Prince' Of Westeros

In George R. R. Martin's fantasy epic, Westeros has become increasingly characterised by dynastic power struggles between powerful families, providing a literary hotbed for careful politicking. Amongst the expansive cast, one character prevails as most calculative, strategic and sinister - Lord Petyr Baelish.

A machiavel in the classic mould, using political manoeuvring, a network of information and financial talents to accumulate power from a position of insignificance. Lord Baelish is unprincipled and unhinged in his potential although, like most machiavels, he abides by his own sinister code of principles.

Lord Baelish reiterates that "knowledge is power". Throughout A Song Of Ice And Fire, this penchant for knowledge and secrets provides the leverage Lord Baelish requires to manoeuvre adversaries. He learned from a young age that he may never possess the physical might of the traditional Westerosi warrior, thus sought to accumulate power through different means.

"Know your strengths, use them wisely, and one man can become ten thousand." - Lord Baelish, 'Game Of Thrones' (TV)

Essential to Lord Baelish's ambition is his exploitation of opportunity, what can be referred to as the 'ladder of chaos', navigating the opportunities posed by war, alliances and death. Adopting the core principle of machiavellianism - to maintain power at all costs - Lord Baelish demonstrates a willingness to dispatch employees, co-conspirators and even Kings if it serves his ultimate purpose.


Machiavellianism and Spontaneous Mentalization: One Step Ahead of Others

Tamas Bereczkei, Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Ifjúság u. 6, Pécs H-7624, Hungary.

Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Tamas Bereczkei, Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Ifjúság u. 6, Pécs H-7624, Hungary.

Abstract

In spite of the Machiavellians' successful strategies in exploitation of others, they show cognitive deficiencies, especially reduced mind-reading skill. Theory of mind is usually regarded as an ability to make inferences about the mental states of others and thus to predict their behaviour. In our study, we have instead emphasized a motivation-based approach, using the concept of spontaneous mentalization. This concept is construed solely in a motivational context and not in relation to the automaticity of mind-reading ability. It entails that people in their social relations make efforts to explore the thoughts and intentions of others and are motivated to make hypotheses about the mental state of the other person. We assumed that what is peculiar to Machiavellianism is spontaneous mentalization as a kind of motivation rather than mind-reading as an ability. To measure spontaneous mentalization, we created a set of image stimuli and asked our participants to describe their impressions of the pictures. The results show that individual differences in spontaneous mentalization correlate positively with the scores of Machiavellianism. These results suggest that those who have a stronger motivation for putting themselves into the mind of others can be more successful in misleading and exploiting them. Further research should be carried out to clarify how spontaneous mentalization and mind-reading ability relate to each other. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


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Machiavellianism and Spontaneous Mentalization: One Step Ahead of Others

Tamas Bereczkei, Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Ifjúság u. 6, Pécs H-7624, Hungary.

Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Tamas Bereczkei, Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Ifjúság u. 6, Pécs H-7624, Hungary.

Abstract

In spite of the Machiavellians' successful strategies in exploitation of others, they show cognitive deficiencies, especially reduced mind-reading skill. Theory of mind is usually regarded as an ability to make inferences about the mental states of others and thus to predict their behaviour. In our study, we have instead emphasized a motivation-based approach, using the concept of spontaneous mentalization. This concept is construed solely in a motivational context and not in relation to the automaticity of mind-reading ability. It entails that people in their social relations make efforts to explore the thoughts and intentions of others and are motivated to make hypotheses about the mental state of the other person. We assumed that what is peculiar to Machiavellianism is spontaneous mentalization as a kind of motivation rather than mind-reading as an ability. To measure spontaneous mentalization, we created a set of image stimuli and asked our participants to describe their impressions of the pictures. The results show that individual differences in spontaneous mentalization correlate positively with the scores of Machiavellianism. These results suggest that those who have a stronger motivation for putting themselves into the mind of others can be more successful in misleading and exploiting them. Further research should be carried out to clarify how spontaneous mentalization and mind-reading ability relate to each other. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J. and Nevitt Sanford, K.: 1950, The Authoritarian Personality (W. W. Norton & Co., New York).

Budner, S.: 1962, ‘Intolerance of Ambiguity as a Personality Variable’, Journal of Personality 30, pp. 29–50.

Caiden, G. E. and Caiden, N. J.: 1977, ‘Administrative Corruption’, Public Adminstiration Review (May/June), pp. 301–309.

Chonko, L.: 1982, ‘Are Purchasing Managers Machiavellian?’, Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management 18 (Winter), pp. 15–20.

Christie, R. and Geis, F.: 1970, Studies in Machiavellianism (Academic Press, New York, NY).

Dietz, M.: 1986, ‘Trapping the Prince: Machiavelli and the Politics of Deception’, American Political Science Review, 80, pp. 777–799.

Earley, P.: 1988, Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring (Bantam Books, New York, NY).

Gemmill, G. and Heisler, W.: 1972, ‘Machiavellianism as a Factor in Managerial Job Strain, Job Satisfaction, and Upward Mobility’, Academy of Management Journal 15, pp. 51–62.

Gilbert, F.: 1971, ‘Machiavelli’. In Schwoebel, R. (ed.) Renaissance Men and Ideas (St. Martin's Press, New York, NY).

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What Machiavelli can teach you about leadership

The thoughts on ruthless leadership by Italian politician and writer Niccolò Machiavelli resonate today.

The Italian Renaissance thinker Niccolò Machiavelli is considered one of the seminal figures in modern political science, even though his most important text The Prince was written in 1513. In the book he described a certain kind of behavior that's come to be regarded as a manual for powerful rulers. The book has been so influential that the word “Machiavellian" became an adjective synonymous with immoral, brutal politicians.

While he was a politician and diplomat in Florence, Machiavelli was not known as a ruthless, cunning manipulator himself. Rather, a lot of his insight was informed by the actions of the powerful families of his day like the Borgias and the Medicis. The lessons of his book are rooted in realism and can be useful to any leader. Granted, there are some aspects of Machiavelli's teachings that are surely controversial and should be viewed in light of their historical context.

Here are some key ideas to take to heart:

1. The end justifies the means

Machiavelli often gets credit for saying this classic quote about consequentialism which says that a morally right act is one that causes a positive outcome. But the way you get to that goal is not important and can be immoral.

While he expressed such a sentiment in other ways, Machiavelli didn't actually say this famous maxim. What he did think was more nuanced, proposing that people don't necessarily want to focus on the details and tend to judge leaders by results. In fact, Machiavelli's thoughts describe how a modern politician might deal with the media, which can be baited and confused by strong actions. Does anyone come to mind as you read this from Chapter 18 of The Prince:

[M]en judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.

For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on.

While his advice might apply well to corporate leaders as well as political, we can see the limitations of such approaches when confronted with the social media outrage culture. Like the United Airlines fiasco recently showed, some “means" will be called out and debated. In the political sphere, however, especially in a hyper-partisan atmosphere, the methods might often be argued but the results of actions will likely overwhelm any details.

2. It's better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both

He didn't say it exactly the way it's been spread around the Internet. His exact quote in chapter 17 was:

The advice here can certainly be taken to extremes, with visions of authoritarian figures ruling through intimidation and secret police. Taken on a broader basis, the idea is that fear is simpler to maintain for a ruler than love, which can be fickle. The key is to avoid being hated, which is when people can really turn against you.

How do you instill that fear? Machiavelli maintained that the “dread of punishment" was important for a smart prince to institute. Cruelty was also some times necessary. Very much a law and order kind of guy, Machiavelli called for strong examples to be made of offenders as lessons to others:

3. Strong public outreach/propaganda

In chapter 15, Machiavelli talks about qualities that a leader should appear to possess and thus would need to cultivate in some measure. When talking about things that would bring a prince praise or blame, the Italian thinker describes it this way:

How many of these characteristics are still true for modern politicians or corporate leaders?

Basically, no matter what you do to stay in power, one aspect to not neglect is strong public relations. Good leaders must appear to have certain characteristics even if they don't actually have them. The case of the tone-deaf United Airlines CEO's initial response to the outrage over a passenger dragged out of their plane comes to mind.

4. “It is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves."

This passage means that some times a leader can't always respond by brute force and must act with insight to recognize the any traps. But against other opponents, like against “the wolves," a leader should be ready to show strength of a “lion" to gain respect.

In other words, know your weak spots, be cunning, and ruthless when necessary.

5. Build an enduring leadership structure and strong team

Machiavelli saw that a strong prince is ultimately as good as his "servants".

He says that if such "men" around the prince are “capable and faithful," then the prince will be considered wise. Otherwise, if the servants are failing, it's the prince's “error" for choosing such help.


Authentic and Inauthentic Ethical Leadership

In the second study, we address whether demonstrated ethical leadership is always genuine and value-based, and we propose that highly manipulative Machiavellians may try to enact an ethical image if they feel this benefits them. Measures of ethical leadership rely on perceptions of the behavior of the leader by followers, thus they reflect a measure of perceived ethicality, yet whether such behaviors are always an authentic expression of morality of leaders is not clear. Here, we argue that outward ethical behavior can be seen as inauthentic if leaders privately hold inner norms and values that differ from their publicly demonstrated values and behaviors. Specifically, we refer here to the difference between privately held Machiavellian norms and values and publicly shown ethical conduct and behavior as a Machiavellian personality represents a deceitful and unethical value system which opposes moral values of ethical leaders. Machiavellianism is a strategy of social conduct that involves manipulating others for personal gain (Wilson et al. 1996). Machiavellians are seen as manipulators and cheaters who reduce the social capital of a group or organization (e.g., Gunnthorsdottir et al. 2002 Paulhus and Williams 2002). For example, Machiavellianism is positively related to salespersons’ willingness to lie (Ross and Robertson 2000). Obviously, manipulating, cheating and lying do not come to mind as ethical behaviors of leaders. Brown and Treviño (2006) state: “In contrast to ethical leaders, Machiavellian leaders are motivated to manipulate others in order to accomplish their own goals. They have little trust in people and, in turn, tend not to be trusted by others” (p. 604). They hold that coercion and manipulation are not ethical sources of influence, and leaders who employ these tactics are unlikely to be seen as attractive ethical models by their followers. Coercion and manipulation are inconsistent with social learning which rests on the assumption that observers can freely select models to observe and emulate. Therefore, Brown and Treviño (2006) propose Machiavellianism and ethical leadership are negatively related.

However, this negative relationship between Machiavellianism and ethical leadership assumes that Machiavellians are always obvious in the expression of this trait, and that it is always clearly visible to subordinates that they are being lied to or manipulated. This is not necessarily the case though. Several researchers note that Machiavellians are able to show both pro-social and coercive strategies to successfully attain their goals (e.g., Hawley 2003). Machiavellians are adept at forming alliances and collaborate with others to promote their own interests. Machiavellian leaders are good liars and skilled at creating a desirable image (DePaulo and Rosenthal 1979). For example, Deluga (2001) found that Machiavellianism was positively related to charisma and perceived greatness of past US presidents. Machiavellians do not always engage in deception and manipulation. Rather, they are adaptable and may also invest in pro-organizational activities. They may act in a friendly and cooperative manner if they see this as beneficial to themselves (Wilson et al. 1996, p. 295). Machiavellians engage in impression management (Becker and O’Hair 2007) and they have been shown to be highly self-interested, goal driven, and emotionally detached from their (inter-)actions which leaves them able to fully focus on goal achievement (e.g., Cooper and Peterson 1980).

In many firms, the pressure of leaders to behave ethically has increased as public scrutiny is up due to the financial crisis and repeated ethical failures that were also in part caused by selfish, unethical management behavior, and businesses cannot afford more scandals. As more firms are creating explicit integrity or ethics norms and implementing codes of conduct, at least outwardly acting in an ethical way may be needed to be able to be successful as a manager, and showing ethical leader behavior may be required more explicitly than before. This suggests that showing ethical leadership can perhaps increasingly also be viewed as an expressed or public identity that is not necessarily commensurate with privately held norms and beliefs. In other words, displays of ethical leader behavior may not always be an authentic expression of identity and traits. The literature on emotional work/emotional labor (e.g., Zapf 2002) notes that individuals often ‘act’ in their workplace in the sense that privately felt and publicly expressed emotions differ from each other. Similarly, we propose Machiavellians may demonstrate or ‘act’ ethical leader behaviors when they feel this benefits them. Given that Machiavellians are characterized by a strong impression management motive (Bolino and Turnley 2003 Becker and O’Hair 2007), they are likely to show such ethical leader behavior if they see that as the best route to create a good reputation and attain their goals. In this sense, it is possible that Machiavellians invest in outwardly enacting ethical leader behaviors to manage the impression of others and come across better.

In the work on transformational and charismatic leadership, a similar question has been raised on the role of leader morals. For example, a distinction has been made between authentic and pseudo-transformational leaders (Bass and Steidlmeier 1999 Barling et al. 2008 Parry and Proctor-Thomson 2002). Authentic transformational leaders are characterized by behavior that is “true for themselves and for others”, that is, these leaders are willing to sacrifice their personal goals for collective goals and truly aim for the greater good. Pseudo-transformational leaders do not “practice what they preach”, i.e., they do not transform their individual goals into collective goals and are not willing to sacrifice their self-interests. This distinction also mirrors earlier work by Howell and Avolio (1992) who similarly distinguish between personalized charismatic leaders motivated by self-interests and personal power versus socialized charismatic leaders who are concerned for the common good. As Bass and Steidlmeier (1999, p. 186) note: “It is the presence or absence of such a moral foundation of the leader as a moral agent that grounds the distinction between authentic versus pseudo-transformational leadership.” Thus, while the outwardly focused behaviors of leaders may be the same, the moral foundation may differ across different leaders.

Drawing on this tradition, we posit in an analogous way that leaders who show similar ethical leader behavior may be authentic or inauthentic, that is, they may be non-manipulative and have personally strong ethical norms (Non-Machiavellians) or they may be strongly manipulative and have rather unethical norms (Machiavellians). As Dasborough and Ashkanasy (2002) note it is hard for followers to see the difference between authentic and non-authentic leaders as while the intentions of such leaders differ, the behaviors they display are highly similar. Here, we test whether followers indeed are able to pick up on authentic or less-authentic displays of ethical leadership. We investigate how followers react in case of conflicts between the leader’s expressed, public identity (perceived ethical leader behavior) and their private identity (leader Machiavellian personality). Followers may recognize signals of leaders’ underlying motives and moral foundation if they are not in line with their behavior. Consistently, Barling et al. (2008) found that followers show significantly different (more negative) emotional and attitudinal reactions to pseudo-transformational leadership than to authentic transformational leadership.

The literature on emotional work similarly notes that authentic expression of emotions is perceived differently and more positively by others than “faking” emotions (surface acting: expressing emotions that differ from one’s real inner feelings) (Hochschild 1983 Ashforth and Humphrey 1993 Zapf 2002). We therefore suggest that the positive impact of ethical leader behavior on engagement is reduced for those leaders for who private identity and expressed identity are not in line (in other words, when Machiavellians are acting as ethical leaders). The inauthenticity of showing ethical behavior and publicly stressing values that are not privately held may shine through thereby making the expression of ethical leader behavior less powerful in its impact on others (Zapf 2002). We therefore hypothesize that the relationship between ethical leadership and follower work engagement is moderated by leaders’ scores on Machiavellianism. Specifically, if ethical behavior is inauthentic (that is displayed by manipulative and deceitful Machiavellians) the positive relationship between shown ethical leader behavior and follower engagement is likely to be weaker than if ethical behavior is authentic (shown by non-manipulative Non-Machiavellians). Thus, we further build on the mediation model above by introducing leader Machiavellianism as moderator in a moderated mediation model. Thus, we hypothesize:

Hypothesis 5

The mediated relationship of ethical leadership with both initiative and counterproductive behavior will be moderated by leader Machiavellianism. Specifically, the relationship between ethical leadership and follower work engagement will be weaker for high Machiavellian than for low Machiavellian leaders.


Psychopathy

The second Dark Triad characteristic is called psychopathy, which has been called an “antisocial" personality. We need to be clear that this does not mean what people usually mean when they say antisocial, which is better classed as asocial (i.e., introverted, not wanting to be around others). What antisocial means in this context is the opposite of pro-social. That means that an antisocial person is generally actively harmful towards others—or perhaps just highly self-focused rather than other-focused.

Psychopathy shares with Machiavellianism a lack of empathy, but is combined with impulsiveness. Psychopaths are risk-takers who do what they want in the moment. I’ve described psychopathy as probably the darkest of the Dark Triad. Psychopaths don’t experience guilt or shame to the degree that most people do—they experience lower levels of anxiety than average as well.

This could be an advantage if your work requires unpleasant actions. In the premiere episode of House of Cards, main character Frank Underwood sums this up well, saying: “Moments like this require someone like me. Someone who will act. Who will do what no one else has the courage to do. Someone who will do the unpleasant thing. The necessary thing.”

In business, the psychopath’s comparative lack of feelings of remorse could make it easier to fire people during downsizing, or even just for thrills, as network executive Jack Donaghy memorably demonstrated on 30 Rock:

Jack: Fire her. And don’t ever make me talk to a woman that old again.
Liz: I can’t fire Rosemary!
Jack: Sure you can. It’s easy. Observe: Jonathan, you’re fired.

Jack clearly has no remorse when it comes to firing people.


What Is Machiavellianism? (with pictures)

Machiavelli was a diplomat in Florence, Italy, who was born in 1469. He was also a writer of both fictional works and philosophical works, some of which display his attitude toward diplomacy, which still bears his name. Machiavellianism is a form of interaction with other people that has, at its core, the idea that unscrupulous means are acceptable if those means result in personal gain.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Machiavelli rejected the concept that authority is inextricably linked to morality. Instead, whoever has the power at the time, no matter how he or she wields that power, still has the authority. For this reason, people who try to gain power do not necessarily require morals, which may, in fact, get in the way of acquiring that power.

Famous books that Machiavelli wrote include The Prince and Discourses on the Ten Books of Titus Livy. These books focus on political theory, and The Prince, especially, focuses on Machiavellianism as a form of political practicality. His views promote the use of means other than the psychological authority of a moral right for the acquisition of power and for the person in power to then hang onto that power. These means include lying, keeping information back, manipulation, and violence. Although primarily associated with political systems, Machiavellianism may also be used by regular people in everyday situations.

Psychologists use a system of questionnaires to identify someone's Machiavellianism, or "Mach" score. A subject fills in attitudes toward statements such as "Keep the reason for what you do to yourself unless it helps you to say why you do something." A high score correlates with the ability of the person to manipulate others. These people may also be perceived by others as charming and smart. They also tend to be less helpful than low Mach scorers, unless it suits their purposes at the time.

An example of Machiavellianism in politics is the coercion of a population through the threat and use of force. This may occur in situations such as military coups. Another example of Machiavellianism is to deceive voters in a democratic system as to a politician's character in order for that politician to gain power, in which position he or she can then manipulate the system for his or her own gain.

Outside of formal politics, people engage in personal politics, and here, too, Machiavellians can improve their circumstances through deceit and actions outside what is considered moral. Research studies on the Machiavellian tendencies of the general population have used various situations to figure out the manner in which Machiavellians promote their own welfares over the welfare of others. Machiavellian kids who were told they would get money for each bad-tasting cracker their partners ate attempted to manipulate their partners through lies and neglecting to mention the crackers were disgusting despite the fact that their partners would feel bad after eating them. Adults with high Mach scores may be more persuasive and more likely to steal and cheat in order to gain money and power at the expense of others.


The Dark Triad Personality Test [Free Quiz]

Have you ever heard of a personality test titled "The Dark Triad"? Sounds a bit evil, right?

When people take personality tests, the results are typically positive or neutral. There is nothing particularly disappointing about your Myers-Briggs score “thinkers” or “perceivers,” for example, are relatively neutral terms. But not all traits are positive. Some traits are negative and are generally attributed to people who do negative things.

The Dark Triad looks at these negative traits. Psychologists have developed tests to determine whether or not these traits exist and potentially spot dangerous people.

Want to learn more about the Dark Triad? Paulhus and Williams’ research on the subject is a great place to start. You should also consider reading This is more recent book on the subject.


Machiavellianism: Dimensionality of the Mach IV and its Relation to Self-Monitoring in a Spanish Sample

The aim of this study was to assess the measurement model of a Spanish version of the Mach IV Scale (Christie, 1970b), used to measure Machiavellianism, and its relation with the Self-Monitoring Scale (Snyder & Gangestad, 1986). 346 undergraduate students (70 males and 276 females) filled in both scales. The results of confirmatory factor analyses showed a four-factor structure to be the most adequate model for the Mach IV, with the following factors: Positive Interpersonal Tactics, Negative Tactics, Positive View of Human Nature, and Cynical View of Human Nature. These results are not in accordance with the original factor structure but are consistent with other authors' findings. A structural model between Machiavellianism and self-monitoring was tested, showing statistically significant paths between interpersonal tactics and one self-monitoring subscale.

El objetivo de este estudio fue evaluar el modelo de medida de una versión española de la escala Mach IV (Christie, 1970b), utilizada para medir el maquiavelismo, y su relación con la escala de Auto-observación (Snyder & Gangestad, 1986). 346 estudiantes universitarios (70 hombres y 276 mujeres) completaron ambas escalas. Los resultados de los análisis factoriales confirmatorios realizados mostraron que, para el Mach IV, el modelo más adecuado era una estructura de cuatro factores: Tácticas Interpersonales Positivas, Tácticas Interpersonales Negativas, Visión Positiva de la Naturaleza Humana y Visión Cínica de la Naturaleza Humana. Estos resultados difieren de la estructura factorial original, pero son congruentes con las aportaciones de otros autores. Se sometió a prueba un modelo estructural entre maquiavelismo y auto-observación, encontrando relaciones estadísticamente significativas entre tácticas interpersonales y una subescala de auto-observación.


8. Lord Petyr Baelish - The 'Prince' Of Westeros

In George R. R. Martin's fantasy epic, Westeros has become increasingly characterised by dynastic power struggles between powerful families, providing a literary hotbed for careful politicking. Amongst the expansive cast, one character prevails as most calculative, strategic and sinister - Lord Petyr Baelish.

A machiavel in the classic mould, using political manoeuvring, a network of information and financial talents to accumulate power from a position of insignificance. Lord Baelish is unprincipled and unhinged in his potential although, like most machiavels, he abides by his own sinister code of principles.

Lord Baelish reiterates that "knowledge is power". Throughout A Song Of Ice And Fire, this penchant for knowledge and secrets provides the leverage Lord Baelish requires to manoeuvre adversaries. He learned from a young age that he may never possess the physical might of the traditional Westerosi warrior, thus sought to accumulate power through different means.

"Know your strengths, use them wisely, and one man can become ten thousand." - Lord Baelish, 'Game Of Thrones' (TV)

Essential to Lord Baelish's ambition is his exploitation of opportunity, what can be referred to as the 'ladder of chaos', navigating the opportunities posed by war, alliances and death. Adopting the core principle of machiavellianism - to maintain power at all costs - Lord Baelish demonstrates a willingness to dispatch employees, co-conspirators and even Kings if it serves his ultimate purpose.



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