The neural correlates of Machiavellian decision making.

The neural correlates of Machiavellian decision making.

A Machiavellias personality is described as personality whereby someone manipulates others for personal gain. They behave in self-interested way willing to exploit others. Three core components are said to underlie this behaviour: an endorsement of deception in interpersonal interactions, a cynical view of human nature and a disregard for conventional morality. Due to the obvious behavioural aspects involved with Machiavellias personalities much of the research into this has focused on the personality itself.

A recent piece of research has investigated decision making in fair and unfair situations in those with Machiavellias personalities. The research from Hungary used 44 participants who took part in a social interaction financial game, the ‘Trust Game’. In the Trust Game participants have to take part in financial risk decision making tasks.

The results of the study with brain imaging found that social environments that involve an opportunity to exploit others may be more demanding for Machiavellians who show elevated brain activities in fair decision making situations but not unfair conditions. Specifically, the anterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (aDLPFC) displayed increased activity in fair decision making tasks in Machiavellian’s. The inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in Machiavellians was found to show increased activity compared to controls. The IFG plays a crucial role in the evaluation of signals that are associated with the social behaviour of others’ which may account for this IFG activity. Thus, the observed activity may in part account for ability of those with Machiavellian personalities to manipulate others for their own personal gain.

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Daniel Edgcumbe

I am studying towards my PhD in cognitive neuroscience at a leading London university

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