The manipulative skill: Cognitive devices and their neural correlates underlying Machiavellian's decision making

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Until now, Machiavellianism has mainly been studied in personality and social psychological framework, and little attention has been paid to the underlying cognitive and neural equipment. In light of recent findings, Machiavellian social skills are not limited to emotion regulation and "cold-mindedness" as many authors have recently stated, but linked to specific cognitive abilities. Although Machiavellians appear to have a relatively poor mindreading ability and emotional intelligence, they can efficiently exploit others which is likely to come from their flexible problem solving processes in changing environmental circumstances. The author proposed that Machiavellians have specialized cognitive domains of decision making, such as monitoring others' behavior, task orientation, reward seeking, inhibition of cooperative feelings, and choosing victims. He related the relevant aspects of cognitive functions to their neurological substrates, and argued why they make Machiavellians so successful in interpersonal relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015



  • ACC
  • Heuristics and algorithms
  • Inferior frontal gyrus
  • Machiavellianism
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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