What is the status of traits theory in personality psychology?

What is the status of traits theory in personality psychology?

Currently, what is the status of traits theory in personality psychology? Is it still a satisfactory theoretical framework to which to refer? What about its personality tests? Could you support your answer with recent scientific literature, please?

This question is quite vague. The trait perspective is probably the most actively researched perspective in personality research. Many thousands of papers are published each year using trait-based measures. And there is a lot of active debate about theoretical and measurement issues.

Constitutional and environmental traits:

Cattell differentiates between constitutional traits and environmental traits. The characteristics in a person that are inborn or biological are constitutional and those that a person forms as a result of his experiences and environmental factors are the environmental mold traits.

According to Cattel surface traits are caused both by heredity (nature) and environment (nurture), some of them only as a result of heredity and some of them may be as a result of environment only. With the help of a statistical technique called MAVA (Multiple Abstract Variation Analysis) he would measure how much a characteristic was determined by heredity and how much by environment.

To do the same, he made comparisons between members of the same family brought up either together or separately or between members of different families either brought up together or separately.

Allport’s research on personality traits

Allport’s trait theory of personality isn’t directly based on empirical research, and this is its biggest Achilles heel. In fact, he published very little research to support his theory. However, in his first publication, he studied the central traits of 55 male college students with his brother, social psychologist Floyd Allport. After the investigation, they concluded that traits were measurable in most individuals. The main objective of this study was to develop a personality scale.

Jenny Gove Masterson’s letters

Another curious Gordon Allport initiative was to analyze a series of letters from a woman named Jenny Gove Masterson. Allport acquired and analyzed the 301 letters Jenny wrote to a married couple during the last eleven years of her life. 36 people were asked to characterize Jenny based on the traits they were able to identify.

After this study, Allport concluded that traits aren’t independent. In addition, in a given moment, the behaviors that motivate two certain traits can conflict. When that happens, hierarchy will make one trait impose over the other.

While several theorists agree that personality traits can describe people, there’s still a debate about the number of basic traits that make up the human personality. For example, Raymond Cattell reduced the number of observable traits from 4,000 to 171 and later to 16, combining certain characteristics and eliminating the most singular or difficult traits to define. In contrast, British psychologist Hans Eysenck developed a personality model based on just three traits.

However, Allport’s trait theory of personality is considered pioneering work in the personality field. He relied on statistical data rather than on his personal experience. A lot of people criticize Allport’s trait theory of personality. For example, some people say that it doesn’t consider a person’s status or their temporary behavior.

What is Machiavellianism in Psychology?

Last reviewed by Sheri Jacobson January 8, 2015 Counselling, Personality disorders 37 Comments -->

What is Machiavellianism?

Machiavellianism in psychology refers to a personality trait which sees a person so focused on their own interests they will manipulate, deceive, and exploit others to achieve their goals.

Machiavellianism is one of the traits in what is called the ‘Dark Triad’, the other two being narcissism and psychopathy.

The term itself derives from a reference to the infamous Niccolò Machiavelli, a diplomat and philosopher in the Renaissance whose most well-known work became ‘The Prince” (Il Principe). This notorious book espoused his views that strong rulers should be harsh with their subjects and enemies, and that glory and survival justified any means, even ones that were considered immoral and brutal.

By the late 16th century “Machiavellianism” became a popular word to describe the art of being deceptive to get ahead.

But it wasn’t a psychological term until the 1970s, when two social psychologists, Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis, developed what they called “the Machiavellianism Scale”. A personality inventory that is still used as the main assessement tool for Machaivellianism, this scale is now called ‘the Mach-IV test”.

Machiavellianism has been found to be more common in men then women. It can, however, occur in anyone – even children.

Signs of Machiavellianism

Someone with the trait of Machiavellianism will tend to have many of the following tendencies:

  • only focused on their own ambition and interests
  • prioritise money and power over relationships
  • come across as charming and confident
  • exploit and manipulate others to get ahead
  • lie and deceive when required
  • use flattery often
  • lacking in principles and values
  • can come across as aloof or hard to really get to know
  • cynical of goodness and morality
  • capable of causing others harm to achieve their means
  • low levels of empathy
  • often avoid commitment and emotional attachments
  • can be very patient due to calculating nature
  • rarely reveal their true intentions
  • prone to casual sex encounters
  • can be good at reading social situations and others
  • lack of warmth in social interactions
  • not always aware of the consequences of their actions
  • might struggle to identify their own emotions

The Machiavellianism Scale

The Machiavellianism scale is a score of up to 100 resulting from a test that consists of a series of questions. People who score above 60 are considered ‘high Machs’ and those scoring below 60, ‘low Machs’.

High Machs are focused on their own wellbeing. They believe that to get ahead, one must be deceptive. They don’t trust human goodness and think depending on others is naive. Prioritising power over love and connection, they don’t believe that humankind is by nature good.

A low Mach, on the other hand, tends to show empathy to others, and is honest and trusting. They believe in human goodness and that if you abide by good morals you will do well in life. Too low on the scale, however, can see people being submissive and too agreeable.

There is also a ‘Kiddie Mach Test’ for children.

Related psychological conditions to Machiavellianism

Machiavellianism is considered part of the ‘Dark Triad’, being one of three personality traits that also includes narcississm and sociopathy / psychopathy. With each of these traits alone making someone difficult to be around, all three occurring in one person can make for someone that is quite dangerous to other people’s mental wellbeing.

Despite seemingly obvious connections between the three ‘dark triad’ traits and the prevalence of one trait often occurring with the other two, research has yet to be done to concretely prove a correlation.

Personality disorders where sufferers might have the trait of Machiavellianism include Antisocial personality disorder , and Narcissistic personality disorder.

A recent study also found a high prevalence of depression in those with the Machiavellian trait.

What is the difference between the three personality traits of the dark triad?

All three traits are about trying to get away with putting yourself first to get what you want. But they each have a different focus.

Machiavellianism is most about manipulation for personal gain.

Narcissism is most about believing you deserve admiration and to be treated differently than others.

Sociopathy is most about being cold and insensitive to others needs.

How is Machiavellianism treated?

The problem with malevolent personality traits like those found in the dark triad is that those who have such traits are unlikely to seek therapy or want to change. They usually only attend therapy if pushed to do so by family members or because they have committed a crime and have been told to attend therapy by court order.

For psychotherapy to be effective, a client needs to be honest and allow a trusting relationship to form between themselves and their therapist. Machiavellianism is a trait whereby a person is often dishonest and does not trust others.

And yet with a knowledgeable psychotherapist progress can be made. A good psychotherapist with experience of the traits of the Dark Triad will see each client as an individual and take into account their unique history. This will include the conditioning they have experienced and their unique life situation. A trained therapist can also identify and help treat other related issues the person has, like depression and anxiety.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is one type of therapy that is sometimes recommended for those with malevolent personality traits. It espouses that the way we think dictates our behaviour, so by identifying and replacing disordered thoughts and feelings we can then transform behaviour.

How Do I Know If I Have the Machiavellian Trait?

While you can find your score on the Machiavellian Scale by trying the test online , self diagnosis is not recommended. If you really are worried you have the trait a proper diagnosis with a mental health professional is recommended.

I Am Sure My Boss/ Ex / Family Member Has the Machiavellianism Trait, What Do I Do?

The problem then lies in the fact that those who do have the Machiavellian trait rarely will want to change or seek help.

Of course it’s also easy to assume others have the traits of the ‘dark triad’ like Machiavellianism, and while many do, it’s best not to jump to conclusions.

If, however, you feel you are the victim of someone with the Machiavellian trait, what you CAN do is seek help and support for yourself.

It can be overwhelming and cause great mental distress and damage to have such a person in your life, and their capacity to manipulate might leave you doubting your own instincts or feeling codependently ‘addicted’ to having them in your life. A therapist can help you learn better self care, and help you set boundaries or if possible extricate the person from your life for good.

Do you have further questions about Machiavellianism? Or want to share a personal experience of it? Do so below, we welcome hearing from you. Note comments are moderated and we do NOT allow advertising, promotion, or any commentary that is intentionally inflammatory or attacks other readers.

photos by helena, wondferret, Chris Isherwood, Joe Houghton

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I do believe hat I have a husband with all these traits. I began questioning why I married this guy a month into our marriage. Have been married 12 years and it has been the worst nightmare you could ever imagine. I just can not believe this that after reading this as well as researching almost everything I could find out here on behaviors, personality disorders etc. he fits all 3 of the dark triad to an extreme in almost all characteristics. Right now he is charged with 4th domestic abuse, managing to get out of a sexual assault by lying to the cops and fabricating a story to the officers that responded to the call- of me abusing him, which I could not believe when I first read his report at my initial appearance in court in company of my social worker who handed me a copy to read while waiting. I was so shocked I started crying and couldn’t stop I just couldn’t believe it there wasn’t even one word of it true.

Hi Sue, thank you for your letter, (we’ve shortened it for your privacy). It sounds like it’s been a truly awful 12 years for you. Sadly, it is not a situation you can control nor can you expect any change on his side. Ever. It sounds like you are spending all your time trying to understand him, which is a normal response, but the truth with such people is there is no way we can understand them. Do you notice nowhere in your messages is there any real worry for yourself? Or attempt to understand yourself? When really in this sort of of situation the ONLY thing you have control over is you. There is only one thing you can do – take care of YOURSELF, and understand YOURSELF. You need to get out of the situation, and hopefully by now you have and are in a safe place. As for worrying what his family think, this is again something you can’t control. It might be very frustrating, but you’ll have to learn to let go of caring about this as you put your attention on healing yourself. Find support to help you understand what childhood experiences led you to choose this experience, and to find the self-esteem to not again choose something like this. If you can’t afford therapy, read our piece on free or low cost counselling ( Your local chapter of Mind might also be able to let you know if there is a support group for victims of marital abuse in your area.

Please tell whether the Machiavellian personality is prone to gambling and to making hugely expensive loans and deals without having the means to pay such loans or taking great financial risks and is unable to meet the obligation to pay their debts, will he also be on the run to get away from being caught? Is this type of personality also inclined to have short relationships and to exploit his partner for his own financial gain? Please tell whether such a person would have narcissistic and or psychopathic traits. Will this person resort to even running away from his family as is the case? Many thanks.

Machavellianism, narcissism, and pyschopathy are all part of what is called the “dark triad”. Many of the things you talk of have flavours of all, yes. Of course each case is unique. But to learn more, research the dark triad.

I got out of a relaltionship that failed due to problems on both sides. I want to mention my accepting responsibility for/my part in this nightmare, because it is part of recovering from all the abuses suffered: early childhood to adolescence, and this most recent affair and exposure to some intense, horrific, and constant abuse over a significant time duration. I am grateful just to be able to even comment on the subject here as there is really not enough time in this life to expand on even a portion of all that happened over a 7 yr period. . . How I got there. the unimaginable things that occurred, and, but also the beautiful rewards gained through therapy recovery, self improvement etc. I found that the woman I fell in love with and still love with all my heart, was afflicted an extremely complex multi dimensional mental illness that incorporated high scores in several categories of disorders including borderline, narcissism, hystrionic, sociopathic, psychopathic, and Machiavellian. Combine in the intensified insanity from chronic binge-type drinking, alcoholism, the frequent habitual use of stimulant type, non prescription drugs ( namely crystal methamphetamine ) and you have a condition that’s quite interesting. I blamed her for everything early on and most of it she owned but I wasn’t a nice guy when pushed into a corner. I didn’t know what to do used only instinctive means of coping or self defense more like. The fact that I didnt understand the illness and it’s complexity or that it was even present also added fuel onto what was a destructive, volatile, explosive fire, already burning outta control… It’s like I got blindsided with hurricane and then hit by a Mack truck simultaneously. I blamed myself. Ended up with scary type anger problems including self resentment in a huge way because I felt like I shoulda recognized it, seen it sooner, get away from it easier, and notice how much of an extreme danger she was and I was being to myself for any interaction or continued involvement with her and not getting some type of immediate help or permanent relief. I can say that I learned more from her, our situation and about life in general. . than I ever did from any doctoral level professor in college. She is currently serving time for felony crimes she committed stemming from addiction. (Edited for privacy).

Mark, what an honest, open sharing. But there is taking responsibility, and there is taking far too much blame after being involved with a highly manipulative addict. In this case it sounds like you are still veering to the latter. There is no need to not be who you are, which is evidently extremely loving, open-minded, and good hearted with strong values. But it is important after such an experience to seek support to boost your self esteem and heal. It’s no small matter to get involved with an addict and felon with sociopathic traits. It leaves one completely at sea, running scenarios over and over in your head, questioning what really happened, and swinging from love to fury. That is normal. Do seek support. You deserve it. And you can heal from this. But you need to give yourself the time, support, and space to do so. It’s probably one of the most overwhelming experiences possible, to love a narcissist or sociopath or felon. Be gentle with yourself.

As a therapist and friend of a couple of lifelong friends who are going through the divorce process, I feel the Narcissism and MACHIAVELLIANISM when pointing to the other partner is somewhat trending. I caution the productivity and purpose of needing to have these traits framed into a psychological disorder. We all probably fall somewhere on the spectrum’s of particular disorders in the DSM depending on the day, week, year. We are all fully aware of the personality and behavioral traits that are appealing and appalling of our partners and ex-partners. Just a thought.

Absolutely. After all, the DSM and it’s many ‘disorders’ are merely to define what is outside of society’s ‘norms’ and are very much aligned with Western mores. And we really do have all the same ingredients within, narcissist and angel. Most of us can decide what recipe we make of that. Obviously, as these people are your friends, and you clearly have fair judgement skills, the rise of any Machiavellian trait is temporary and situational. A disorder would only come into it if such traits are consistent, pervasive across all areas of a person’s life, and present since young adulthood. Even then it’s hard to say if it’s trauma that damaged the brain or a genetic occurrence. And although some would such people are beyond change or hope, and for the most part case studies might show that, who knows. Humans are still really a mystery and unique.

Hello, I very much appreciate the posts you have included above (at the bottom of your ‘What is Machiavellianism in Psychology?’ home page).

My situation is quite different.
For the past year my young daughter and I have been the ‘victims’ of a Social Worker who, having read the descriptions here, I believe suffers with this condition.
I don’t know whether this condition shows up in her dealings with other cases it seems to me that in our case certain words may have triggered the ‘Machiavellian’ response in her.
A few years ago My daughter was the subject of a Child Protection Plan because a third party had, erroneously, claimed there had been possible sexual abuse.
When a referral was recently made to Child Services the current social worker (she has told me this) saw the words ‘sexual abuse’ and has acted ever since with regards to this.

This social worker has an online presence which tells of her years of (up until she was 52yrs of age) unhappiness which resulted in her being grossly overweight, using food and alcohol to ‘numb the pain’, shouting at her colleagues and then going home and shouting at her family. She has had me undergo first of all an assessment with a psychiatric nurse… when this didn’t give her the results she wanted she claimed in a Pre-proceedings meeting that I had ‘not been honest’ during the assessment. She then had me undergo a 5 (five) hour assessment with a psychologist and again, when this did not provide the result she wanted she has, in a Child Protection Conference, again claimed that I was ‘not honest’ with the psychologist.
She has now completed a Parenting Assessment in which she has made erroneous claims and at the end of which she gives her opinion as my child is suffering nothing but harm in my care therefore she thinks it in the best interest of my child to be removed from my care.

It sounds a very difficult situation for you. It’s not our field of expertise, but it does certainly sound that you should file a complaint through the appropriate channels and ask for someone higher up to review the case. We wish you all the best with it.

I grew up with a father who was miserable & alcoholic & a mother who was retarded both intellectually and emotionally & a grandmother who had Alzheimer’s & was sociopathic & a religious nut, and I still don’t know who I am. I feel like I tried to please them so much as a child that I lost myself. Now I read descriptions of personality traits & I see myself in all of them I feel like I’m everybody, and nobody. After 20-30 yrs of realizing I don’t know myself, I still don’t know what to do.

I tried years ago to find a therapist, and sometimes I did have one despite not being able to afford a psychiatrist, but I have never met any therapist I really liked or trusted completely, or one I thought was intelligent enough to see me as I really am and help me to understand myself better. I’ve come to realize that for a therapist to help you, they have to be smarter than you are. The last therapist I saw was a student of psychology participating in a low-income program. I have given up on having a personal therapist. I read self-help stuff sometimes (like today), and it helps sometimes, but my life right now is in disarray and I feel like this society runs on money & without it one cannot get the help one needs, so I’ve been working 66 hrs/wk trying to refill my coffers which were emptied after I moved back in with my elderly mother & lived with her for 15 miserable years. You’re probably saying that was stupid, and I knew it would be painful I did it because I felt I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t, even though I didn’t want to (my mother was never a pleasant person to me, she bullied me & blamed me for her problems, long story but she has narcissistic, Machiavellian & sociopathic traits). She’s gone now, and I did my duty as her child to take care of her & I feel good about that, but it left me without money & too old to retrain & get a good job. I’m 4 yrs from Social Security and have a college degree but I’m working as a Chinese food delivery person for a neurotic couple I’m so glad to get the work but I fear they’re gonna be closed down soon because of their inability to recognize their own problems. If anything, it’s made me more aware that I need desperately to get my own disorganized life in order.

I live in mama’s old house which is cluttered & dirty, I need to do so, so much work here I cannot even get myself to start. Look at me, right now, writing on a counseling blog when I could & should be cleaning up this messy house. (I get online a lot & I feel like if the computer wasn’t here I’d probably focus more on what’s right in front of me, but I need this soul-searching.) I have a repairman coming tomorrow morning to fix a Costco-bought washing machine that’s leaked for a year & caused my kitchen floor to rot out, first the Costco rep said they’d fix the floor too, but now they tell me it will depend totally on what the repairman says in his report tomorrow. I’ve been trying to get neighbors to help me with cleaning out the kitchen, I even offered to pay, but so far nobody has volunteered. Money, if only I had enough money I could hire a company. I hate money, I hate having to have money for everything. I hate being dependent on others for work to make money. I wish I could just live & never want for money.

I used to think I was an introvert, but now I think I’m a frustrated extravert I like analyzing people and getting to know people as individuals, interacting with good people, but I don’t like getting emotionally involved or being with troubled people, I got enough of that growing up. I never got along with people very well, my mother used to pull me away from other children anytime there was a problem, she couldn’t help me, she wouldn’t even admit that I needed to be around people who could help me, just the opposite.

I’ve been told I have a personality disorder, but the person who said that was a ‘therapist’ (I use quotes because I would not recommend him to anybody for any job) who started screaming at me because I was trying to tell him I didn’t want to do the childish exercises he was giving me to do, so I don’t know if that’s correct. I’ve since been told informally by a professional psychologist that she had seen other patients who said he did the same to them, so I don’t think his behavior was my fault (he worked for the local Mental Health Center & he was still there years later, they didn’t fire him, they eventually retired him). My short experience with him taught me that therapists are often incompetent, & that having a degree does not make a person either competent or beneficial to society. But that didn’t help me. Most of my therapists have been incompetent. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I can’t afford $150+/hr, I’ll never get to see any intelligent therapist.

I realize I’m meandering here, it’s one of my traits, I’m unfocused unless I make myself focus. Probably ADHD, it runs in the family, my mother’s mother had it.

I started looking at this page because I googled the Dark Triad from another article, and I tend to write comments or talk to people I don’t even know about my problems. I talk to myself here out loud, I read articles out loud here in my bedroom, I think it helps me. I used to just read books, silently, as a child, lots & lots of books, now I feel a need to communicate, almost a desperate need. As a child, I was not urged to communicate, quite the opposite, when I did try to tell my parents I saw something wrong, they didn’t want to hear it. So I learned to dampen down my feelings & my words, but not my thoughts, I had an extremely active mental life as a child. Now I wish I’d been able to get away from my parents, I wanted to run away, I left once when I was about 4, the police brought me back. I learned I couldn’t get help outside the family. I felt trapped. And yet I stayed. They made me feel like they needed me, and I wanted to be needed. I didn’t leave until I was 26. By then my father was near death from alcoholism & my little sister was 16. I just gave up on them. I realized they wanted me there as a buffer between them, and as a doer to get all the things done that they should’ve been doing. I was an enabler in other words. So I got out. And then I realized I was alone with myself for the first time & I didn’t have the faintest idea how to find & live the kind of life I needed/wanted. I can’t tell you how many times I laid on the carpet of my living room floor & just cried & cried with my cats beside me.

I’ve lived alone for a long time now. Even when I moved back in with my mother after 17 yrs of living with pets, I still felt alone. And then I realized she had pushed me away from her when I was a child. She was emotionally retarded, she could not relate to me on an emotional level, or to my father. I started studying genealogy because I saw these traits in my parents & I wanted to know more about them (and by relationship, about me), I found out my mother’s family has a lot of sociopathy, especially on her mother’s side. And my dad’s has a lot of alcoholism & some neuropathy on his mother’s side. I guess I’m lucky to be as sane & balanced as I am. When I lived with my parents, I felt like often I was the only sensible, sane person in the house.

I need to get my life in order. How. How do I even start?

First of all, we’d never say it was stupid to move back in with your mother. We believe that we all tend to do the best we can given the resources we have in any given moment, and we need to all honour and respect the choices that felt right. What comes across clearly here is that you are tremendously intelligent, hard working, and courageous, with a huge amount of resilience.But it seems thinking and analysing it is leading to more confusion, and more lack of self. In fact thinking seems to be your comfort zone. There is a real sense here that ‘being’ and feeling are needed. Have you heard of mindfulness? It’s a deceptively simple way to bit by bit break free of the torments of thought and learn how to access what you are truly feeling in any given moment. We have a very through guide to it for free here Another idea is to search for a mindfulness group near you, if just to have a chance to meet and connect other interesting people who are ready to understand who they are and can inspire you in a way it seems that many other people sadly haven’t been able to. And keep trying. You’ve come through all of this, and here you are. We believe there can still be hope ahead.

I suppose Machiavellianism is a worldview, if you think about it. I’ve never actually manipulated anyone, but I do however believe that manipulation is not an unforgivable sin, but instead a thing that shouldn’t be your first choice. However, is it what you think or what you do that constitutes Machiavellianism?

Do. We all have dark thoughts. It’s normal. We are all human, with what Jung termed the Shadow. And manipulation is not an unforgivable sin, we agree – otherwise all the children aged 2 to 5 in the world would be in trouble!

Before you read further, full disclosure: I am a high Mach (but not a psychopath nor a narcissist).

Allow me to share my side of the story: I was neglected as a child and was bullied and abused aggressively by peers in my school years. I have ADHD and also a history of depression.

I also have Alexithymia and have a total lack of empathy for others. It doesn’t help that I cannot identify my own emotions either. Yet, I am an easy-going guy, I like people (until proven wrong) and I do not spend my time plotting schemes and thinking on how to screw people over.

Why am I telling you this? Because being Machiavellian is a condition of the environment one evolves in.

Indeed, I do not trust and believe in human goodness, nor do I need to rely on anyone.

Would I wish to be different, a trusty-happy-go-lucky-full-of-empathy lad? Would it be easier? I do not think so.

Machiavellianism, with all of its negative aspects, saved me from serious trouble, financial and otherwise. Not trusting other human beings can be an asset in the world we live in. I do have moral fiber and strong convictions. We’re not all evil-plotting-power-hungry-sadistic animals.

I thought it important to mention.

My 45 year old son is now in prison for the rest of his life due to s 13 year old sociopath, his step daughter who took all kinds of pictures of herself and sent them to him as well as around the world. He woke up with her giving him oral sex, she took pictures of it and turned him in as if it was his fault. She has no consciousness or empathy . The family has fallen apart and on welfare. They were a middle class family, he had a good job for 14 years and had never even had a parking ticket. All cos and the law can see is this charming little girl. Also he has 5 year old twins that he can no longer see and they live with this sociopath. Mom tries to keep them safe but it is still a dangerous situation. They are from Indiana and I so pray that someone can help

Thank you for this very useful article. I come from the fatherland of machiavellianism: Italy. I had a one-year relationship with an Italian machiavellian, let’s call him Dario. At first I was seduced by his charm and his position: he was the CEO of a SME enterprise. I also liked his fearlessness, as he likes adrenaline sports such as climbing. His utmost secrecy on all levels was evident from the outset. Dario’s skillful courtship (skillful becaus I was aware he was using PUA -pick-up artis- techniques from the start) resulted in us kissing on the 2nd date, have sex on our 4th date, and the two of us secluded in a luxury resort on the 5th date, far from home, where Dario imposed unprotected sex on me on the Saturday (and I said no), but then the next day he must have used other convincing techniques (by the way he masters NLP very well on all levels), including pretending to have sexual fantasies similar to mine. So the next day I caved in and had unprotected sex for a few months, based on my belief that we were a stable couple, but hey, no living together. Then he decided to have vasectomy, something we hadn’t discussed at all, but that was fine. After that, from the way Dario was keeping me out of the core of his life, I became more and more aware that in order for me to feel sexually safe, I had to reintroduce the condom. So we did, despite his resistance. A couple of times Dario tried to make me change my mind by giving me very expensive presents, and always tried to take me by surprise during arousal, to force himself into me without a condom. Again, I said no. The first time he gave in, the second time, he broke the relationship in the most heartless way: slowly withdrew interest, cancelled a week we were supposed to try and live together, at the last minute. Then when I literally begged to tell me the truth, Dario justified his vanishing by saying we could no longer hang out together because he was being threatened by a creditor of his company, who was using cross-revenge to force him to pay (so-called “vendetta trasversale”, meaning the creditor calls the mafia and 2 gangsters threat the debtor’s spouse or children (and I have a daughter)-hey guys this is all true. No real explanation of why it all ended. I mean, I was also very clear at one point, that I had boundaries (not only the condom, but also I don’t accept that a man fakes sexual fantasies in exchange for other favours, for example, he wanted me to have group sex with me). Me reinstating good boundaries was probably the main reason why he broke up. Too bad….It’s over. It had been a year of passion, he used to pester me with love messages every day, we had a great time together. But obviously there was too high a price to pay. I have been in pain for a few week after breaking up. Dario had been a sort of hero for me, fixing all my problems. A sort of dependency developed in me. The sense of emptiness he left in me by vanishing brings me excruciating pain. Slowly, I am building my life again. What’s most striking is, I have been lucid and aware of all that was going on, I thought I could somehow defend myself (perhaps I did to some extent), but it was the first time with a machiavellian. I had no idea how to recognise one. Now I know.

Sounds awful Luisa. It’s good you are rebuilding your life. Sometimes the drama and excitement of such a relationship can be so addictive that even our lucidity is overridden. Have you considered talking to a counsellor about it all? It’s certainly a lot to explore in the safety of the counselling room, and would also ensure you don’t fall into the same pattern in the future. Which always seems unlikely when we leave a relationship, but patterns are difficult to break alone.

It’s an interesting perspective, but it sounds rather lonely. And also a bit black and white. Is anyone really all happy-go-lucky? We haven’t met them. In fact happy-go-lucky is often a cover for low self-esteem. Maybe we are all just humans doing our best to get by, which is what you’ve done, and we honour that. But at the same time, we’ve seen others learn to trust and believe in human goodness despite horrendous childhoods/ADHD/depression. We didn’t call anyone evil plotting animals in our article, we are rather of the belief that there is hope for all of us. You included, we’re afraid! Thank you for your honest sharing and we wish you well.

I was recently in a situation with a guy I’ve known since 2008, he chased me for all these years though I’d never give in. As of early last year I went against my morals for this man knowing it was wrong. I asked him why he was so persistent of getting me and his response of ” You’re the only one who never gave me a chance. Last yr he became my first, where we had unprotected sex for eight times. Me knowing better I allowed myself to slip, be naive and give him the benefit of the doubt. During the time period he admitted to sleeping with someone else on his lunch break. I overlooked it and still continue sleeping with him unprotected. He’s in another country where he immediately starting having more sexual relationships with different females. I’ve cried countless of times from feeling used and broken by this man.He possess almost all the qualities stated above especially casual sex. I take responsibly for putting myself in that situation but he’s convincing. Any advice on how to let go of him?

That sounds really hard. We hope that you did find the help required.

Oh dear, it sounds really heart breaking. Yes, we’d suggest you work on your self-esteem with all your might, starting with some self-compassion. There is self-judgement, for example, in this message. And the more we judge ourselves and hold ourselves up against impossibly high standards, the more we seem to slip up, as if a part of is rebelling against being so under-appreciated and controlled. What would happen if you just loved yourself anyway, regardless of what you do? There are many ways to work at self-esteem, from reading books to starting a new project you are passionate about and getting out and meeting new people who share interests and passions. It’s also a great idea to speak to a counsellor or therapist if you can. Low self-esteem coupled with high self-judgement can lead to depression and anxiety if not dealt with. Good luck!

Thank you Harley Therapy for sharing this information online. I was reading an article about psychological surveys and evaluations of alt-right ideology and it mentioned Machiavellian tests. Since I’m also reading “Be Like the Fox” (review below) about Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and how it is interpreted, I searched for what Machiavellian is in psychology, thus finding your post.

I started reading this book because I had heard Machiavelli’s name in college and several other places but never knew what it meant. Then after reading this book, I’ve learned how complex he was and how many misconceive (per book’s author) his ideology but spoke to the ego of leaders to fail them, but not for Machiavelli’s personal gain.

I also read another book “Productive Narcissist” which delves into the psychology definition of that abnormality. So, thank you again for your posting this information.

Competitiveness (personality)

Competitiveness is a personality trait and form of social behavior in which people rise to the challenge of competition and rivalry.

Many philosophers and psychologists have identified a trait in most living organisms which drive the particular organism to compete. This trait, called competitiveness, is viewed as an innate biological trait which coexists along with the urge for survival. Competitiveness, or the inclination to compete, though, has become synonymous with aggressivity and ambition in the English language. More advanced civilizations integrate aggressivity and competitiveness into their social interactions as a way to distribute resources and adapt. Most plants compete for higher spots on trees to receive more sunlight.

Hypercompetitiveness [ edit | edit source ]

The tendency toward extreme, unhealthy competition has been termed hypercompetitive. This concept originated in Karen Horney's theories on neurosis, specifically the highly aggressive personality type which is characterized as "moving against people." In her view, some people have a need to compete and win at any cost as a means of maintaining their self-worth. These individuals are likely to turn any activity into a competition, and they will feel threatened if they find themselves losing. Researchers have found that men and women who score high on the trait of hypercompetitiveness are more narcissistic and less psychologically healthy than those who score low on the trait (Ryckman et al. 1994). Hypercompetitive individuals generally believe that "winning isn't everything it's the only thing."

What is the status of traits theory in personality psychology? - Psychology

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

Personality refers to the long-standing traits and patterns that propel individuals to consistently think, feel, and behave in specific ways. Our personality is what makes us unique individuals. Each person has an idiosyncratic pattern of enduring, long-term characteristics and a manner in which he or she interacts with other individuals and the world around them. Our personalities are thought to be long term, stable, and not easily changed. The word personality comes from the Latin word persona. In the ancient world, a persona was a mask worn by an actor. While we tend to think of a mask as being worn to conceal one’s identity, the theatrical mask was originally used to either represent or project a specific personality trait of a character ([link]).

Happy, sad, impatient, shy, fearful, curious, helpful. What characteristics describe your personality?

In order to successfully sell a product you have to know who to sell it to. Therefore, being able to accurately characterize consumers is a crucial goal of marketing and consumer behavior research. But interest in creating these characterizations exists outside just the marketing world: developing systematic ways of describing people and their personalities has been a goal of psychology from its early days. From the begining, personality traits and personality types have been understood to serve different purposes in research. Over the years there have been many different theories regarding what personality is, how it arises and how we can categorize it. For example, Sigmund Freud was a proponent of psychodynamic theories, suggesting that personality is influenced by the unconscious and the progression through psychosexual stages, and B.F. Skinner advocated for behavioral theories that view personality as a result of individual interactions with the environment. One important (and ongoing) dichotomy in beliefs in this field is between type theory and trait theory. Like other theories in personality psychology, these two approaches attempt to systematically categorize people, but go about this goal in different ways.

The essential difference between the trait theory and type theory is this: type theory views characteristics of people as discrete categories whereas trait theory views these same characteristics as part of a larger continuum. For example, where a type theorist would claim that introverts and extroverts are two types of people, a trait theorist would claim there is a gradient leading from introversion to extroversion and it is possible for individuals to fall somewhere in the middle.

Type theory has its roots in personality scales such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which posits 16 personality types deriving from a set of four fundamental dichotomies: extroversion vs. introversion, thinking vs. feeling, sensing vs. intuitive, and perceiving vs. judging. Proponents of this theory believe that, just as an individual orients toward left or right handedness, one orients toward one of the 16 possible combinations of these dichotomies and that is their “type”.

Many psychologists have recently shifted away from type theory in favor of trait theory. Much research has revealed that variation in human personality indeed occurs along continuous dimensions and not as discrete categories, and viewing personality in this way allows for more flexible categorization of individuals by eliminating the ‘boxes’ into which type theory tries to fit people. No matter how many dichotomies of traits you choose to look at, a type theory approach will always have some limit to the number of ways a person’s personality could potentially be oriented. With a trait theory approach, there is an infinite number of places on the sliding scales of traits individuals could fall.

Recent research has demonstrated that individuals’ positions on these continuums can be tied to motivations in terms of real world behavior. Used correctly, this view of traits offers a back door to understanding consumer decision-making and can allow for flexible customized segmentations based on the aforementioned motivations, rather than arbitrary "universal" types.

Opening our view of personality to this broader scope can also allow for the inclusion of other factors that can be viewed on continuums -- like fashion sense or sense of humor -- into our descriptive model. These factors may not be explicitly related to personality, but we can refer to them as psychological traits, as they are still important in terms of figuring out who people are.

By determining valid and reliable measurements of these useful constructs, we can develop a powerful way of analyzing individuals that moves away from strict categorizations and towards a deep understanding of the variance within segmentations. In turn, this procession of interpretation, from traits to motivations to behaviors, can lead to valuable insights about consumer behavior and decision-making.


Trait theorists argue that not everyone can be hypnotised, and that some easily fall into a trance whilst others seem unable (or unwilling) to succumb.

The trait hypnotists will therefore start with a test of hypnotisability and may reject people who do not score sufficiently highly on this test. This is a typical action of a stage hypnotist who does not want to spend hours on the induction.

A typical test is to get the subject to clasp their hands together, then suggest that they cannot unclasp them. Good subjects with high trait will find it difficult to pull them apart.

Who believes in conspiracies? New research offers a theory

Conspiracy theories have been cooked up throughout history, but they are increasingly visible lately, likely due in part to the president of the United States routinely embracing or creating them.

Given that any particular conspiracy theory is unlikely to be the subject of mainstream consensus, what draws people to them?

New research by Josh Hart, associate professor of psychology, suggests that people with certain personality traits and cognitive styles are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. The research was recently published in the Journal of Individual Differences.

"These people tend to be more suspicious, untrusting, eccentric, needing to feel special, with a tendency to regard the world as an inherently dangerous place," Hart said. "They are also more likely to detect meaningful patterns where they might not exist. People who are reluctant to believe in conspiracy theories tend to have the opposite qualities."

Hart and his student, Molly Graether '17, surveyed more than 1,200 American adults. Participants were asked a series of questions related to their personality traits, partisan bent and demographic background. They were also asked whether they agreed with generic conspiratorial statements, such as: "The power held by heads of state is second to that of small unknown groups who really control world politics," and "Groups of scientists manipulate, fabricate or suppress evidence in order to deceive the public."

Previous research has shown that people gravitate toward conspiracy theories that affirm or validate their political view: Republicans are vastly more likely than Democrats to believe the Obama "birther" theory or that climate change is a hoax. Democrats are more likely to believe that Trump's campaign "colluded" with the Russians, Hart said.

Some people are also habitual conspiracists who entertain a variety of generic theories. For example, they believe that world politics are controlled by a cabal instead of governments or that scientists systematically deceive the public. This indicates that personality or other individual differences might be at play.

Hart and Graether wanted to build on this research by testing how much each of several previously identified traits could explain generic conspiracy beliefs. By examining multiple traits simultaneously, the pair could determine which ones were most important.

"Our results clearly showed that the strongest predictor of conspiracy belief was a constellation of personality characteristics collectively referred to as 'schizotypy,' Hart said.

The trait borrows its name from schizophrenia, but it does not imply a clinical diagnosis. Hart's study also showed that conspiracists had distinct cognitive tendencies: they were more likely than nonbelievers to judge nonsensical statements as profound (a tendency known as "BS receptivity").

In turn, they were more likely to say that nonhuman objects -- triangle shapes moving around on a computer screen -- were acting intentionally.

"In other words, they inferred meaning and motive where others did not," he said.

So what does this all mean?

"First, it helps to realize that conspiracy theories differ from other worldviews in that they are fundamentally gloomy," Hart said. "This sets them apart from the typically uplifting messages conveyed by, say, religious and spiritual beliefs. At first blush this is a conundrum. However, if you are the type of person who looks out at the world and sees a chaotic, malevolent landscape full of senseless injustice and suffering, then perhaps there is a modicum of comfort to be found in the notion that there is someone, or some small group of people, responsible for it all. If 'there's something going on,' then at least there is something that could be done about it."

Hart hopes the research advances the understanding of why some people are more attracted to conspiracy theories than others. But he said it is important to note that the study doesn't address whether or not conspiracy theories are true.

"After Watergate, the American public learned that seemingly outlandish speculation about the machinations of powerful actors is sometimes right on the money," he said. "And when a conspiracy is real, people with a conspiracist mindset may be among the first to pick up on it while others get duped.

"Either way, it is important to realize that when reality is ambiguous, our personalities and cognitive biases cause us to adopt the beliefs that we do. This knowledge can help us understand our own intuitions."

Gordon Allport

Gordon Allport is a great trait theorist to start off with. Back in the early part of the 20th century, he went through the dictionary and found over 4,500 words that could be considered personality traits. (Nowadays, we have about 18,000 trait-descriptive adjectives.) From those 4,500 words, he came up with three different types of traits.

The first category consists of cardinal traits. These traits and behaviors rule how you approach the things you are passionate about. Punctual is a classic example of a cardinal trait it is usually influenced by some desire to impress or be ready to get to work. If someone had to describe you in 3 words, these 3 words would most likely be Cardinal Traits. In fact, some traits are named after people: Machiavellian, Freudian, Christ-like.

The second category is central traits. These traits are found to a certain degree in every person. Honesty, agreeableness, or jealousy may all be considered central traits that may or may not come from our genetic makeup.

Last is secondary traits. These traits may apply to different situations depending on the context of said situation. In general, you may be a respectful person. But if you dislike a certain authority figure or person in your life, people may see a rude side to you. Another word for these are "attitudes" or "preferences".

Watch the video: Swiss Chess Champion GM Noel Studer reflects on his OTB career+gives Improvement Advice for Amateurs (January 2022).