I enjoy learning new words. While I was talking to someone about Farmers Branch City Council and The Oppressive Code my friend used the word “Machiavellian”.  Now, I have heard that word before, but was always a little unsure about the definition. So I looked it up in Wikipedia. Here’s what I learned:


Machiavellianism is also a term that some social and personality psychologistsuse to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain. In the 1960s, Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis developed a test for measuring a person’s level of Machiavellianism. This eventually became the MACH-IV test, a twenty-statement personality survey that is now the standard self-assessment tool of Machiavellianism. People scoring above 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered high Machs; that is, they endorsed statements such as, “Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to do so,” (No. 1) but not ones like, “Most people are basically good and kind” (No. 4). People scoring below 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered low Machs; they tend to believe, “There is no excuse for lying to someone else,” (No. 7) and, “Most people who get ahead in the world lead clean, moral lives” (No. 11). Christie, Geis, and Geis’s graduate assistant David Berger went on to perform a series of studies that provided experimental verification for the notion of Machiavellianism.

Machiavellianism is one of the three personality traits referred to as the dark triad, along with narcissism and psychopathy. Some psychologists consider Machiavellianism to be essentially a subclinical form of psychopathy. [6]


Isn’t “Machiavellian” a fun and useful word? And you can say “Machiavellianism” too, which sounds really cool. In this blog I can think of all kinds of ways to utilize that word and the concept. In fact, I could write an entire post about this word.

But there’s more. I found a test for Machiavellianism. It’s called the MACH-IV test. It is so much fun that I wanted to share it with you so I added a link. Look under the category Interesting Links for the MACH IV Machiavelli personality test. Try it – try it on your friends and constituents.

Do you know anyone who is Machiavellian? I’ll bet you could use this word to describe not one, but a whole group of people. Or an organization, or a department, or …………