Psychology Machiavellian Personality Traits By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Updated on April 24, 2023 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Maria Korneeva / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Origins of the Concept Traits How Can You Tell If Someone Is Machiavellian? Machiavellianism and the Dark Triad How to Deal With Someone Who Has a Machiavellian Personality FAQ Someone who has a Machiavellian personality may ruthlessly deceive or manipulate others in order to meet their own goals. They may treat other people as mere objects that can help them get what they want and discard them when they no longer have use for them. This article explores the signs of a Machiavellian personality, discusses the Machiavellian scale, and suggests some strategies that can help you cope with a Machiavellian person in your life. Where Did the Concept of Machiavellianism Come From? The concept of Machiavellianism was first introduced during the Renaissance period by Niccolò Machiavelli, an Italian diplomat and political strategist. In his book, “Il Principe” (The Prince), Machiavelli posits that rulers who are brutal in their quest for power and glory are more likely to survive, succeed, and pass their genes onto future generations than those who are honest or moral. Machiavellianism, became a term to describe behavior where a person will do anything to get ahead, believing that the end result justifies the means. Traits of a Machiavellian Person Someone with a Machiavellian personality may display the following traits: Focusing only on their own goals and interests Prioritizing success, power, money, and fame above all else Manipulating or exploiting others for their own gain Having no qualms about deceiving or lying to others Being charming and using flattery to their advantage Believing the end result justifies the means Having a cynical view of human nature Having a negative attitude toward everything Believing themselves to be superior to others Not being able to empathize with others Having difficulty trusting other people Being disconnected from their own emotions Struggling to identify and express their feelings Staying aloof and lacking genuine warmth in social interactions Avoiding emotional attachments with others Being able to read people and social situations, and using this insight to their advantage While any person of any age may have a Machiavellian personality, research shows that Machiavellian personality traits tend to be more common in men than women. How to Tell if Someone Is Lying How Can You Tell If Someone Is Machiavellian? If you're wondering if someone is Machiavellian, there is a test that can be used to determine whether or not they are. The Mach-IV Test A scale known as the Mach-IV test is used to assess whether or not someone has Machiavellian personality traits. The test has a list of 20 statements and participants have to give each statement a ranking from 1 (completely disagree) to 7 (completely agree). Half of the statements on the test demonstrate Machiavellian attitudes, such as “The best way to handle people is to tell them what they want to hear,” or “Anyone who completely trusts anyone else is asking for trouble.” The other 10 statements convey anti-Machiavellian attitudes, such as “One should take action only when one is sure it is morally right.” Possible Test Results The test is scored out of 100 points. People are categorized based on their scores:High Machs: People who score above 60 points on the test are considered high Machs as they demonstrate Machiavellian personality traits.Low Machs: People who score below 60 points are considered low Machs as they are more trusting, empathetic, and positive. People who score very low on this test may have submissive tendencies. A separate scale known as the Kiddie Mach has also been developed to assess Machiavellianism in children. Machiavellianism and the Dark Triad Machiavellianism often goes hand in hand with other negative personality traits, forming what is known as the dark triad personality. What Makes Up the Dark Triad Personality? The dark triad personality includes the following traits: Machiavellianism: Being cunning, manipulative, and dishonest in order to achieve one’s goals Narcissism: Being incredibly self-centered and having an inflated sense of self-importance Psychopathy: Being anti-social and lacking empathy and remorse People with dark triad personality traits tend to exploit others’ vulnerabilities and may harm them physically or emotionally. How to Deal With Someone Who Has a Machiavellian Personality These are some strategies that can help you cope with a Machiavellian personality in your life: Recognize Machiavellian traits: The person may come across as confident and charming and pay you lots of compliments. However, if you see them express Machiavellian traits in their relationships with others, it’s important to understand that they will probably treat you the same way someday. Don’t personalize their behavior: Whether it’s a friend, colleague, or partner, interacting with a Machiavellian personality can leave you feeling insecure, angry, disappointed, or used. Try to avoid taking the person’s behavior personally and thinking there’s something wrong with you. Understand that their behavior is a reflection of who they are, rather than of who you are. Prioritize self-care: People with Machiavellian tendencies only look out for themselves and have no consideration for others' needs. Practice self-compassion and self-care, to ensure your physical, emotional, or professional needs are being met. Don’t let your needs go ignored. Limit your interaction with them: If someone has a Machiavellian personality, try to limit your interaction with them in order to protect yourself. Instead of trying to outplay them or get back at them for something they did to you, it’s best to stay out of their way. Rely on your support system: Surround yourself with loved ones you can trust and count on for support. They can help you recognize Machiavellian behavior, see through the gaslighting, and provide the encouragement and resources you need to end your relationship with the person. Signs Someone Is Using You Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions Is Machiavellianism good or bad? Machiavellianism is not good, because people with Machiavellian traits tend to manipulate or deceive others in order to meet their goals. Can people with Machiavellianism love? Research shows that people with Machiavellian traits tend to take a negative, cautious, and distrustful attitude to intimate relationships. They find it difficult to be warm, open, agreeable, trusting, and loyal to others, including romantic partners.Machiavellianism is linked to poor relationship quality and low relationship satisfaction. What is the difference between Machiavellianism and narcissism? Machiavellianism and narcissism are both part of the dark triad and often go hand in hand as they have several common characteristics, including a marked disregard for others.However, they are not exactly the same thing. Machiavellianism is more focused on manipulating others to achieve one's goals, whereas narcissism is more focused on seeking attention and admiration for oneself. Dark Empaths: Is There Such a Thing as a Worst Personality Type? 12 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Psychological Association. Machiavellianism. Miller BK, Nicols K, Konopaske R. Measurement invariance tests of revisions to archaically worded items in the Mach IV scale. PLoS One. 2019;14(10):e0223504. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0223504 American Psychological Association. 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Mama Mach and Papa Mach: Parental Machiavellianism in relation to dyadic coparenting and adolescents' perception of parental behaviour. Eur J Psychol. 2018;14(1):107-124. doi:10.5964/ejop.v14i1.1474 By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.