How Machiavellian Are You?

Close up Red PSYCHOLOGICAL MANIPULATION Text at the Center of Word Tag Cloud on White Background.

How Machiavellian Are You?

How Machiavellian Are You.

How Machiavellian are you?

Never thought about it? Since the word Machiavellian is defined as unscrupulous, underhanded and crafty the question of ‘just how Machiavellian are you?’ isn’t something that pops into the head of the average bear. Unless you’re a cop, or lawyer or have had sufficient experience with the justice system to know that it’s less about justice and more about money and/or winning and losing, like me.

Just in case you need a refresher, Niccolo Machiavelli was a sixteenth century Italian philosopher and politician. The origin of the maxim, “The end justifies the means.” His book, The Prince is replete with mantras like, “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”

Bull is one of the TV shows that John and I enjoy watching regularly. I like watching Jason Bull reveal the subterfuge that underscores the American courtroom. During a recent episode, he discusses this question: “How Machiavellian Are You?” And gave the MACH-IV test to his staff- getting my attention with one of the questions on the test- ‘Is honesty always the best policy?’

After the show was over, I wondered if there was really a ranking of just how Machiavellian is a person. And did an online search. Indeed there is. I took the test.

But before we go to the test, perhaps you’d like to know why I think our justice system is more about money and winning and/or losing than justice?

I have had two vivid, intense experiences- neither of which I care to repeat- with the legal system. Here is the first, one that smashed my idealistic view of justice.

  1. Because he knew that my views about guilt or innocence as determined by the courts were wholly unjustified, the then General Counsel for the medical center where I worked, suggested I be an expert witness in a suit against Texas Children’s Hospital. I had just published my textbook on advanced cardiovascular nursing, had published scores of articles and chapters in critical care so I accepted the request of the defense attorney for TCH to testify as an expert witness. I would be paid good money for my time. In short, I learned that the two experts for the plaintiffs lied, lacked any experience to be qualified as an expert and yet were paid very well for doing so. Lesson learned? These legal suits have little to do with facts and everything to do with intimidation, verbal skills and understanding the game of the courtroom. Because of my testimony, the case against the hospital was dropped.
  2. My second experience happened about five years ago, when I served on a jury of a sexual abuse case. And got elected Foreman. I learned enough that I wrote a novel based on that harrowing experience.  And last year partnered with a trial attorney/actor, Mark Kamish, to produce an audiobook of the book in hopes that others could learn some of what I knew. Lessons learned?Fundamentally, the notion of innocent until proven guilty does not apply once the hand cuffs are on. Most jurors assume guilt merely because the person is accused. If the subject is about sex with a minor, then the case grows exponentially. Ergo the ‘game’-one in which the stakes can cost no less than everything…

After taking the MACH-IV twenty question test, I learned that I am more Machiavellian than you. I Maybe. Unless you test higher than 65, that is.

Try it. You might surprise yourself! Not that being high or low on a silly testing that ranks “how Machiavellian are you?” is important for you or I to know…or is it?