What Is a Machiavellian Personality?

Dimitri Otis/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images

People with Machiavellian personality manipulates and controls others in order to gain or profit from themselves. The European Association of Psychology and Laws describes a Machiavellian as “one who thinks that the end justifies the means, regardless of human suffering.” The term “Machiavellian” was coined from 16th-century French diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli, who was best known for his book “The Prince,” considered a guide for manipulative, unscrupulous politicians, states Biography’s website.

Machiavellianism is one of the three personalities that are considered a part of the Dark Triad of personalities, with the others being narcissism and pyschopathy. The European Association of Psychology and Law further explains that Machiavellians use others and take advantage of their trust in a ruthless drive to ensure advancement for themselves. Machiavellians do not see themselves for what they are and are excellent at rationalizing their behavior.

Machiavellianism in an individual can be measured using a personality test known as the Mach IV. The test is a 20-item questionnaire that measures an individual’s willingness to manipulate other people. Anyone that scores over 60 is considered to have a Machiavellian personality. Those that receive passing scores are either categorized as having a low mach personality or high mach personality.