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Empathy & Manipulation Narcissistic & Machiavellian Personality Styles Dr Doris McIlwain & Dr Alan Taylor Dept of Psychology, Macquarie University, Australia.

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Presentation on theme: "Empathy & Manipulation Narcissistic & Machiavellian Personality Styles Dr Doris McIlwain & Dr Alan Taylor Dept of Psychology, Macquarie University, Australia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Empathy & Manipulation Narcissistic & Machiavellian Personality Styles Dr Doris McIlwain & Dr Alan Taylor Dept of Psychology, Macquarie University, Australia

2 The Manipulators Machiavellian [Mach] & Narcissistic people do not accord others the status of being centres of experience and initiative For different reasons, Narcissists and Machs devalue others Some within each personality style are able to exploit others Exploitation is unlikely to occur where empathy is felt for the other

3 Exploitation and Empathy One is unlikely to exploit another for whom one has warm, compassionate concern Yet how can one be a good manipulator without empathy as a basis for insight into the current state or current needs of another? Do Narcissists and Machiavellians lack all empathy, or do they have some kind of empathy to discern the current need states of others?

4 Empathy - Cognitive & Affective Most researchers and theorists acknowledge that empathy has many dimensions The distinction between hot (affective) and cold (cognitive) is widely accepted. For Davis (1983, 1984.) Empathy has four dimensions: two hot and two cold.

5 Empathy - Hot & Cold Hot Empathy entails vicarious experience of emotion in the body of the observer, inspired by the perception of an emotional other Cold Empathy doesn’t necessarily entail the vicarious experience of emotion Cold is more attitudinal, entails cognitive appraisal of the perspective of the other (with fantasy projection of oneself into the position of the other as a more imaginative variant).

6 No hot, just cold empathy? Manipulation is less likely when one feels for another. Yet to discern need-state, some mind-reading seems necessary. Are Machiavellians & Narcissists low on hot empathy, but high on cold? To answer that, I need to tell you a little more about empathy, & about those personality styles & how they are assessed here

7 Hot & Cold Empathy HOT EMPATHY Empathic Concern is positively related to empathic capacity Personal Distress is negatively related to empathic capacity (suppression of own discomfort required to have state of other paramount) COLD EMPATHY Perspective-taking is positively related to empathic capacity Fantasy is positively related to empathic capacity

8 Empathy Measure (Davis, 1984) (abilities or tendencies) Presence of Empathy Empathic Concern [EC] Perspective-taking ability [PT] Fantasy [F] Low Personal Distress [-PD] Absence of Empathy Lack of Empathic Concern [Lack EC] Lack of Perspective- taking [Lack PT]

9 Advantages of Measure Distinguishes hot and cold empathy Two separate item styles address positive empathy & not caring about others feelings or viewpoints Not Caring items: lack of Empathic Concern & lack of Perspective-taking (usually reversed items within the scales). analysed separately here as useful for asocial personality styles.

10 Perspective-taking [Cold Empathy] Example of Positive Perspective-taking item I try to look at everybody’s side of a disagreement before I make a decision Example of Lack of Perspective-Taking item If I’m sure I’m right about something I don’t waste much time listening to other people’s arguments

11 Empathic Concern [Hot Empathy] Example of Positive Empathic Concern item When I see someone being taken advantage of, I feel kind of protective towards them Example of Lack of Empathic Concern item When I see someone being treated unfairly I sometimes don’t feel very much pity for them

12 Narcissists & Machiavellians a thumbnail sketch Narcissism Failure adequately to distinguish self & other (Hoffman (2000) suggests this distinction is vital for empathy)-> capacity to treat other as resources for self Lack of concern for other as other Underlying self-doubt & overlay of grandiosity Machiavellianism Tendency to use others against their own interests for personal gain [Tactics] Views others as ‘thinking objects’ Contemptuous, cynical worldview emphasizing vanity & self-delusion [Views] Expedient, contingent morality

13 Measuring Narcissism & Machiavellianism Narcissism Measure: Narcissistic Personality Index [NPI] Measures superiority/arrogance, self-absorption, exploitation & entitlement, leadership. Machiavellianism Measure: Mach IV Christie & Geiss (1970) Measures views portraying others as vain, self-deluded & out for themselves tactics & morality which expediently take advantage of that

14 Abbreviations of Measures Narcissism (Treated as a total score) Some items: Everybody likes to hear my stories I have a natural talent for influencing people Machiavellianism Separate Subscales: Views Tactics Morals Contrasted with: Kind views, Kind tactics

15 Machiavellian Items Kind Items (or reverse-scored Machiavellian) Mach Views It is safer to assume most people have a vicious streak Kind views The power of one man over another is rarely the result of trickery or force Tactics It is wise to flatter important people Kind tactics The best way to settle an argument is for people to forget their differences Morality A white lie is often a good thing

16 Major Research Questions Manipulative personality styles like Machiavellians & Narcissists, are they low on all forms of empathy? - Do they have at least cold empathy (the better to discern need states to manipulate with)? -Are they just low on items positively expressing caring for others? Or is it that they don’t care?

17 Machiavellians & Narcissists Low on Care: Are high scores on these personality styles associated with low scores on positive items expressing hot & cold empathy? OR Actively Don’t Care: Are high scores associated with high scores on items expressing a lack of hot and cold empathy?

18 Narcissism, Machiavellianism & Hot Empathy Lack of Empathic Concern correlates with Narcissism (r =.26, p<.001) Machiavellian views, tactics & morality all correlate negatively with items expressing empathic concern Views (r = -.20, p<.001) Tactics (r =-18, p<.03) Morality (r = -.29, p<.0001)

19 More Correlations for Machiavellianism & Hot Empathy Relationships between Machiavellian Tactics, Views & Empathic Concern were also significant for those items expressed as I don’t care Views (r =.42, p<.0001) Tactics (r =.32, p<.0001) Morality (r = -.34, p<.0001)

20 Narcissism, Machiavellianism & Cold Empathy - some correlations Narcissists low on cold (cognitive) empathy Narcissism correlates with lack of perspective-taking (r =.15, p<.05) Machiavellianism (all subscales) linked with being low on perspective-taking, (Correlations range from.25 to.35; all are highly significant).

21 Empathic Concern Lack of Empathic Concern Perspective -Taking Lack of Perspective -Taking Machiavellian Views -.20** (p<.006).42** (p<.0001) -.28** (p<.0001).35** (p<.0001) Machiavellian Tactics -.18* (p<.013).32** (p<.0001) -.28** (p<.001).25** (p<.001) Machiavellian Morality -.29** (p<.0001).30** (p<.0001) -.34** (p<.0001).24** (p<.001) Kind Views.24** (p<.001) -.14 ns (.06).19 ns -.04 ns Kind Tactics.26** (p<.0001) -.19 ** (p<.01).28** (p<.0001) -.02 ns Narcissism-.14 ns (.07).26** (p<.001) -.12 ns.15* (p<.05)

22 Machiavellians, Narcissists and Empathy Endorsing highly Machiavellian views, tactics & morality is associated with being low on hot and cold empathy All associations small but highly significant Endorsing Narcissistic items is associated with being low on hot & cold empathy.

23 Empathy & Exploitation revisited Machiavellians are low on all forms of empathy & this effect is robust across item expressive style

24 Model Reduction: Predicting Narcissism

25 Narcissism Associated with having a lack of empathic concern and being very low on personal distress sign that they are not readily vicariously distressed by the plight of another?

26 Machiavellianism Personal Distress is not at all a predictor What about the legendary ‘cool syndrome’? Well they are low on empathic concern But… neither do they have cold empathy To the extent that they are good manipulators, their views, tactics & morality must be enough

27 Gender, Exploitation & Empathy Men are significantly more Narcissistic [N] (p<.05) Men have significantly more Machiavellian morals [M] (p<.01) Women have (p<.003) significantly greater Perspective-taking [PT]abilities & tendencies

28 Gender & Positive Empathy Women significantly higher on: Fantasy [F] (p<.006) Perspective-taking [PT] (p<.01) Empathic Concern [EC] (p<.007)

29 Gender & Lack of Empathy Men are significantly higher in Lack of empathic concern (p<.0001) Lack of (p<.02) perspective-taking Women are (p<.03) significantly higher on personal distress [PD]

30 Gender & Machiavellianism Men are significantly higher on: Mach Views [MV] (p<.0001) Mach Tactics [MT] (p<.04) Kindviews & Kindtactics (ns)

31 Education & Empathy Empathic Concern significantly differs across education levels (p<.005) HS = High school (A- levels, or year 12) C = Certificate Di = Diploma De = Degree Lack of Perspective-taking significantly differs across education levels (p<.01)

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