When the Going Gets Tough, The Machiavellians Get Going

It’s crunch time at the office—deadlines are looming, employees are slammed, bosses are panicked. Who’s in their element? The Machiavellians, that’s who.

According to a study in the Journal of Business and Psychology, the people who thrive the most in tough office conditions are Machiavellians. Researchers assessed 110 psychology students for Machiavellian traits (take your own off-brand test here), which included answering questions like “I am willing to sabotage the efforts of other people if they threaten my own goals”. All the students were employed in part-time jobs, and their work supervisors also provided performances ratings for each participant.

When conditions were tougher, students who tested higher for Machiavellianism tended to be seen as better performers. Researchers suggest that they were probably using politicking, manipulation, and social influence to be seen as better performers.

So, think your best performers are really the best? Maybe you ought to adopt former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg’s motto: In God we trust. Everyone else, bring data.

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