The Insightful Manipulator: Machiavellians’ Interpersonal Tactics May Be Linked to Their Superior Information Processing Skills

  •  Tamas Bereczkei    
  •  Bela Birkas    


Recent studies have revealed that Machiavellians are capable of exploiting others effectively even in the long run, using flexible strategies and adjusting their behavior according to the social circumstances. We predicted that information manipulation skills (e.g. memorizing, organization) would play an important role in Machiavellians’ reasoning skills and flexible thinking. Subjects (N=114) performed 4 different cognitive tasks measuring ability to memorize, organize and analyze information, and use information in reasoning. We observed a significant positive association between Machiavellianism and information processing and information manipulation skills, which suggests that Machiavellians preferentially use a “rational” thinking style, which is associated with flexible processing. This interpretation is consistent with recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies showing increased neural activation in areas related to working memory, inference making and anticipation of success in Machiavellians.


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