Development of a Five-Factor Model Measure of Machiavellianism

Katherine L Collison, Purdue University


Machiavellianism is characterized by planfulness, the ability to delay gratification, interpersonal antagonism, and callousness. Although its theoretically positive relation with facets of conscientiousness should make Machiavellianism distinct from psychopathy, current measurements of Machiavellianism are indistinguishable from those of psychopathy. The goal of the present study was to create a theoretically grounded measure of Machiavellianism using an expert-derived trait profile based on the thirty facets of the Five Factor Model (FFM) and then test the validity of that measure by comparing it to relevant constructs. Expert ratings of the prototypical Machiavellian on FFM facets yielded a profile of 13 facets spanning low agreeableness and high conscientiousness. Items were written to represent each facet, resulting in a 201-item Five Factor Machiavellianism Inventory (FFMI). Across two studies, with a total of 710 participants recruited via MTurk, the FFMI was reduced to its final 52-item form comprising three factors: Antagonism, Agency, and Planfulness. The FFMI was shown to relate as expected to measures of Big Five personality traits, current Machiavellianism measures, psychopathy, narcissism, ambition, and impulsivity. The study findings suggest that the FFMI is a promising alternative Machiavellianism measure.




Lynam, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Personality psychology

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