If you have ever watched a true-crime programme or been interested in deviant personalities, then you are familiar with certain personality traits. We often hear of the narcissist or the psychopath, but we rarely hear about the Machiavellian Personality.  

Yet, Machiavellism forms a third of the Dark Triad, along with narcissism and psychopathy. So I wonder why this particular trait is not as well understood, when in fact, it is the most interesting.

Let’s start at the beginning.

What Is Machiavellism?

The term Machiavellian derives from the early 16-century Italian Renaissance philosopher and writer Niccolò Machiavelli. Machiavelli was the political adviser to the powerful ruling Medici family in Italy. 

Before Machiavelli came along, politics was considered to be a matter of ethics and morals. Machiavelli realised there was a better way to gain and maintain control. 

He believed that the end justified the means and that rulers should use any tools at their disposal. This included deception, manipulation, and fear to achieve power. 

So how does a person with Machiavellian traits present themselves in modern society? 

What is a Machiavellian Personality?

Machiavellianism is a malevolent personality trait whereby a person will exploit, abuse, and manipulate to achieve their goals. Machiavellism is one of the traits in the Dark Triad; along with psychopathy and narcissism.

7 Signs of Machiavellian Personality

1. They are cynical and distrusting

Machiavellians believe everyone is untrustworthy. They are suspicious by nature. They think the world is a game, made of up winners and losers. You play the game to win and if someone gets crushed along the way that’s just how it works. 

They assume everyone is doing the same as they are. So if they don’t get you first, they will be the loser. 

2. There are liars, then there are Machiavellian liars

We all tell lies. Little white lies that don’t offend our friends. We make excuses for why we can’t attend a colleague’s wedding or we say that our partner looks great in that dress. 

But Machiavellian lies are on a different level. More to the point, they are good at lying. Machiavellian personalities rarely tell the truth. They’ll tell the sort of lies that get you into trouble and put them in a favourable light. 

“If indeed I do sometimes tell the truth, I hide it behind so many lies that it is hard to find.” Machiavelli

3. They prefer to cut corners, rather than put in the hard work

If this means exploiting others, then so be it. They will use all their powers of persuasion and flattery to get you to do the majority of the work. But you won’t get the recognition. They have already gone to the boss and signed off with their name.

They think that anyone who does put in a hard day’s work is a sucker and deserves to be used.  

4. Money, power, and status are the most important

The Machiavellian personality values money over family, power over people, and status over morality. It is easy to spot this person. They’ll be the family member insisting on discussing the split of inheritance at your parent’s funeral. 

Or the ex-partner bragging about how they screwed you into paying more than your fair share of the bills. 

5. They take advantage of and exploit people

Machiavellians will do anything to achieve their goals. This means they have to use or exploit others. People are merely means to an end for them. They are objects to be used to further their interests. 

They might be friends, lovers, or family members; it doesn’t matter to the Machiavellian. Whether it is posting incriminating pictures of an ex-partner on social media, or withholding vital information from a colleague. After all, isn’t everyone doing the same thing? 

6. Flattery gets them everywhere – with you

Machiavellian personalities come across as charming and personable when you first encounter them. They have a gift for flattery. The Machiavellian personality will tell you what you want to hear.  

They’ll exploit friendships and family members by flattering them. Remember those pyramid schemes in the 80s that took the life savings from ordinary folk? They relied on the charm and guile of ruthless salespeople. I bet you could associate the majority with Machiavellian traits. 

7. They are highly strategic, but you wouldn’t know it

You won’t find the Machiavellian personality hogging centre stage like the narcissist or the psychopath. Machiavellians like to stay hidden in the shadows, quietly plotting their next tactical move. These are the ultimate coercive controllers

They like to pull the strings without being noticed. They’ll control the situation and then sit back and watch from afar as their plans unfold. 

What to Do about a Person with Machiavellian Traits?

It’s disturbing to recognise the above signs and realise that you know someone with a Machiavellian personality. But you don’t have to be at their whim.  

The way to understand a Machiavellian personality is to recognise how they view the world, and then what tactics they use to manipulate it

People who score highly in Machiavellian traits think that people cannot be trusted, that they are selfish, gullible, and weak, and therefore, there as pawns to be exploited. 

Because they think the world is like this, they feel justified in using any means necessary to achieve their goals. They don’t care about morality or feelings and want results with minimum effort.   

Final Thoughts

The Machiavellian personality may not be as dangerous as the psychopath or cause as much long-term emotional damage as the narcissist. However, they are highly devious, capable of delaying gratification, and skilled in flattery and manipulation.

They are solely focused on their ambitions and will stop at nothing to achieve their end goals. 

If you recognise any of the above signs, walk away. 


  1. www.psychologytoday.com
  2. www.inverse.com
  3. www.researchgate.net

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This Post Has 6 Comments


    There is no dearth of such kinds of people in our society.

  2. G.D.

    So basically a Politian … ?? …

  3. Tod Bearup

    This personality is everywhere here. Las Vegas. Now that I am retired, it is interesting to read this and see those traits in people.

  4. ohwhocare

    Why are dark triad people allowed to participate in society? Shouldn’t they be considered disabled & barred from certain professions, such as medicine, teaching, and politics? It seems to me these traits are the root of all evil, not money.

  5. larry

    I do not think any one engaging in politics has a good nature

  6. FacelessVictim

    I wish I had seen this website Oct 2021 you could have been my live support, ohwhocare, Tod Bearup, just want to add the new toys for these people particuraly during Pandemic Lockdown, Domestic CCTV, hidden spycams, recording devices, digital went mental, everyone snitching on covid rule breakers, whose masked who isnt, you cant kiss behind a mask or see fully who is behind it or what type of person they are. Sure you agree women have a natural curious nature, peek in wallet, sneak at your phone, where you been, who you seen, why you dont want to be with her. Or your just a normal guy in a normal happy marriage, ups and downs we all them dont we? Now Guys You all remember the expression ‘bunny boiler’ ooo that delighrful sex lure, 1987 film Fatal Attraction, the smell of sex and your gone, and Adam fell, to a womens deceit? Did you think it stopped? some women want to be everywhere, dont care how they get there, who they crush, or what lie rolls of their tongue. Cunning, no emotion or empathy, today have pandoras box of hidden gadgets, to small tucked away cameras recording your every word, inside you house capabilities, now image that bunny boiler again, she dont have to move to watch your every move. will destabilise you, hear your passwords, access your emails work and home, one step ahead. So call the police? too late she receiving your emails or access? she the victim remember ‘she has centre stage to YOU, destabilised, now remember that bunny boiler? Please looked beyond your own sexual desire, that will kill your heart and soul, please dont forget postings or images, recordings or other posted, Malcious Communications Act, Sect 127, false allegations men you have them like running water, remember that section, destabilisation means exactly that, so remember preventing and perverting the course of Justice and causing police frustrations is an offence, women fought for equal rights 100 years ago. One Law One Rule, jail time too, fathers who do not get to see their children will care for them while mothers do the jail time, crime or child, I Bless and pray no hearts are broken, thank you to
    Janey Davies, B.A, the UK really are behind, if victims can remember offenders leave data trails, there is hope and a way to close that gate. God Bless

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