Experimental evidence suggests executive functioning differentiates Machiavellianism from psychopathy.

Daniel N. Jones, University of Texas at El Paso

Document Type Article


Research suggests that having a long-term orientation differentiates Machiavellianism from psychopathy. Two studies examined the issue of how depleted executive resources may affect individuals high in Machiavellianism. Participants in Study 1 were randomly assigned to an ego-depletion or control condition and were then given the opportunity to cheat for a small reward, but potentially large cost. Results indicated that among participants in the control condition, psychopathy was the best predictor of cheating, whereas Machiavellianism was unrelated to cheating. However, an interaction emerged such that ego-depleted individuals high in Machiavellianism were actually most likely to cheat. Study 2 replicated this effect with a different measure of the Dark Triad. Executive functioning appears to be (at least) one critical difference between Machiavellianism and psychopathy, insofar as individuals high in Machiavellianism have greater executive functioning when compared to those high in psychopathy. Moreover, adequate executive control appears to be necessary for dark personalities to resist antisocial temptations.