Have just read the article “Why the brain follows the rules? (see it bellow) and what really intrigued me was not exactly the question why the brain follows the rules but why there are some differences among people…or say it differently….Why some brains don’t follow the rules?
It’s brought me back to the question of psychology of power as influence of personal/genetic traits and the influence of enviroment(omnipresent corporate culture which declare itself as a person but without human traits) which shapes people’s mind through language/values and perception.
And here Niccolò Machiavelli comes on stage. To helps us figure out either opportunistic and selfish behaviour is indeed result of someones brain (dis)function or it could be simply acquired during socialization. The field is well studied but with no final answer. So i gonna speculate as well. Cos i did extensive study for myself to catch just the tail of the problem. The whole body of the problem is yet to be researched.
Take a minute to find your score on Machiavelli personality test . It’s fun and while doing it you can get pretty clear idea what it’s all about (and what i am talking in the rest of the post). To be socially successful in this world, you would mark the answers which are not really close to your true nature but you would definitely pass better at work or on social situation (not friends) if you behave lake that. Thinking about that is already opportunistic. And here is evident the whole problem. It is kind of adaption mechanism or survival strategy. But still…to which extent? We all do it. But than, why some of them can easily take the last exit of human morality and try to dominate other people. We all don’t do it. That’s clear. Some of us have different goals than money and dominance. Beauty of every moment, for example.
And going further, for example, I can’t simply believe that all people from “elite” families are genetically so the same that they follow the same Machiavelli’s rules. They’ve been taught, i guess. But the range of people who came to the position of manipulating and are not part of taught elite, could be so diverse. From psychopath traits to the ones who simply found out by chance how to come to the position of dominance and manipulation. Although they were just good, nice , ordinary people before. Did they hide those traits or did the system change them? As one research showed the level of serotonin rises as person comes to the higher position. The Standford experiment is great example for that. But unfortunately, the end result is the same as it would be inherited case. Brain is very plastic, seems so. And it changes a lot during the life.
As some researches show, machiavellism and primary psychopathic traits are highly correlated, but the question remains: Was it there before or was it learned…Some researches show that correlation doesn’t exist. That Machiavellians are just well adopted people with high survival instincts. Is it possible that their social status and wealth diminishes the treat of punishment and that’s why their brain shows all signs of disinhibition which is characteristic for psychopaths?
See bellow the traits of psychopaths, machievillists, correlations and what scans of the brain say about. One is sure. Orbitofrontal cortex is playing a great role. Was it that kind at their birth or was it changed during the life time as adaption strategy, is the real question to be answered.
The traits of PSYCHOPATHS(Cleckley, 1941; http://www.rottenamerica.com/Psychopath/Signs%20of%20a%20Psychopath.htm ):
PRIMARY PSYCHOPATHS do not respond to punishment, apprehension, stress, or disapproval. They seem to be able to inhibit their antisocial impulses most of the time, not because of conscience, but because it suits their purpose at the time. Words do not seem to have the same meaning for them as they do for us. In fact, it’s unclear if they even grasp the meaning of their own words, a condition that Cleckley called “semantic aphasia.” They don’t follow any life plan, and it seems as if they are incapable of experiencing any genuine emotion.
SECONDARY PSYCHOPATHS are risk-takers, but are also more likely to be stress-reactive, worriers, and guilt-prone. They expose themselves to more stress than the average person, but they are as vulnerable to stress as the average person. (This suggests that they are not “fully psychopathic.” This may be due to distinctive genetic variations.)
They are daring, adventurous, unconventional people who began playing by their own rules early in life. They are strongly driven by a desire to escape or avoid pain, but are unable to resist temptation. As their anxiety increases toward some forbidden object, so does their attraction to it. They live their lives by the lure of temptation. Both primary and secondary psychopaths can be subdivided into:
DISTEMPERED PSYCHOPATHS are the kind that seem to fly into a rage or frenzy more easily and more often than other subtypes. Their frenzy will resemble an epileptic fit. They are also usually men with incredibly strong sex drives, capable of astonishing feats of sexual energy, and seemingly obsessed by sexual urges during a large part of their waking lives. Powerful cravings also seem to characterize them, as in drug addiction, kleptomania, pedophilia, any illicit or illegal indulgence. They like the endorphin “high” or “rush” off of excitement and risk-taking. The serial-rapist-murderer known as the Boston Strangler was such a psychopath.
CHARISMATIC PSYCHOPATHS are charming, attractive liars. They are usually gifted at some talent or another, and they use it to their advantage in manipulating others. They are usually fast-talkers, and possess an almost demonic ability to persuade others out of everything they own, even their lives. Leaders of religious sects or cults, for example, might be psychopaths if they lead their followers to their deaths. This subtype often comes to believe in their own fictions. They are irresistible.
Sociopaths have always existed in varying form and to various degrees. They have been known by various titles. They have been studied using various techniques, and through the years their ailment has been blamed on various causes. But one thing never varies: all sociopaths share three common characteristics. They are all very egocentric individuals with no empathy for others, and they are incapable of feeling remorse or guilt. [The Sociopath Rebecca Horton (April 1999)]
The term refers to Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513) and to the hypothesis that the techniques which lead to certain kinds of political success within large social groups are also applicable within smaller groups, including the family-unit. The term “everyday politics” was later introduced in reference to these various methods. These arguments are based on research by primatologists such as Nicholas Humphrey (1975).
Machiavelli’s teachings continue to influence all levels of Western society. Take for example a situation presented by Michael Walzer: An elementary school needs a new roof. Simple as it may seem, much of Machiavelli’s theories will be put to use. Money from a budget must be allocated by officials, each of them lobbying for what they think is most important. Even then, if money is allocated towards a new roof, a construction contractor must be hired. One must consistently consider, What is behind this lower estimate for the construction work? Why does this company want this small contract? Many questions must be asked in order to identify deception. In the end, all anyone can ever do is “strive to make an informed decision based on the best evidence, and then act accordingly, even though the best evidence will never guarantee certainty.”
Machiavellian intelligence may be demonstrated by behaviors including:
- Making and breaking alliances
- making and breaking promises
- making and breaking rules;
- lying and truth-telling;
- blaming and forgiveness;
- misleading and misdirection.
Machiavellianism is the term that some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain. The concept is named after Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote Il Principe(The Prince). In the 1960s Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis developed a test for measuring a person’s level of Machiavellianism. This eventually became the MACH-IV test, a twenty-statement personality survey that is now the standard self-assessment tool of Machiavellianism. People scoring above 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered high Machs; that is, they endorsed statements such as, “Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to do so,” (No. 1) but not ones like, “Most people are basically good and kind” (No. 4). People scoring below 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered low Machs; they tend to believe, “There is no excuse for lying to someone else,” (No. 7) and, “Most people who get ahead in the world lead clean, moral lives” (No. 11). In a series of studies undertaken by Christie and Geis and Geis’s graduate assistant David Berger, the notion of machiavellianism was experimentally verified.
High Machs tend to take a more detached, calculating approach in their interaction with other people. In terms of Big Five personality traits, Machiavellians tend to be low on agreeableness and high in conscientiousness.
Scholars and researchers have attempted to find a correlation between Machiavellianismand narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy. It could be understood that psychopaths and sociopathshave a similar disposition that could be identified with Machiavellianism, for sociopaths are known for manipulation and cunning. Psychopaths, however, generally have difficulty realizing or understanding the concepts of right and wrong, and tend not to have much regard for consequences. On the other hand, High Machs perhaps more or less view as Machiavelli did, and simply believe that while right and wrong have reality (at least to most people), that it is impractical to be ethical all the time, and that perhaps there is a difference between outright deception or exploitation, and subtle spins on the truth for the sake of what is seen (subjectively) as a more important cause that is not recognized by both parties. However, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two, because both types exhibit similar tendencies, often while considering it important to mask or misrepresent their motives. Furthermore, true High Machs (as opposed to sociopaths) tend to take consequences very seriously, and when dedicated to a course of action which may backfire, it is usually because the potential consequences have been weighed quite carefully and the High Mach is prepared to be responsible if blame cannot be deflected sufficiently.
Low Machs tend to take a more personal, empathic approach in their interaction with other people. They tend to be more trusting of others and more honest. They believe humans are essentially good natured. At the extreme, low Machs tend to be passive, submissive, highly agreeable, dependent and socially inept; in contrast with those who are more Machiavellian, they also tend to believe that everyone has a good and bad side.
Previous research has demonstrated a relationship between Machiavellianism and a preference for business occupations. The present study tested the hypothesis that this Machiavellian-business connection is mediated by other personality characteristics. Support was obtained for predictions that, compared to Non-Business High Machs, Business High Machs would (i) differ little on Neuroticism (low) or Pchoticism (high), but (ii) score significantly higher on Extraversion, as measured by the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. The links between sociability (Extraversion), toughmindedness (Psychoticism) and skills in interpersonal manipulation (Machiavellianism) are discussed in terms of their complementary implications for effective business behaviour.
Machiavelli’s (1513/1902) work The Prince provided the basis of the Machiavellian personality type coined by Christie and Geis (1970). The traditional Machiavellian perspective advocates that the leader’s main goal is to be in power at all costs, whereby the end justifies the means as long as power is retained.
The Machiavellian personality type has been researched extensively. Initial research found individuals who were strong in the Machiavellian disposition to be controlling, manipulative, and ruthless (Christie & Geis, 1970). However, recent research has shown that individuals higher in the Machiavellian disposition are more flexible in their choices of influence tactics than individuals lower in the Machiavellian disposition (Grams & Rogers, 1989), and are more likely to exhibit self-monitoring behaviors (Snyder, 1974). The Machiavellian personality has been positively correlated with certain types of planning for communication in interpersonal situations, indicating that high Machiavellians give thought to how to influence others (Allen, 1990).
Those who score high on a Machiavellian assessment instrument would be more flexible in choosing influence tactics most likely to lead to follower compliance (Carpenter, 1990). Those scoring low on a Machiavellian assessment would be less likely to strategically alter their behavior. Another factor contributing to the high Machiavellian’s flexibility of behavior might be the ability to use self-monitoring to read and use environmental cues to determine behavior. Research has shown a strong relationship between Machiavellianism and self-monitoring (Leone, 1994; Snyder, 1974).
Under the situational model, a high Machiavellian disposition would affect the relationship between an individual’s motivation source and influence tactic choice, because he or she would be able to alter behavior according to the situation. By contrast, the dispositional model indicates that the low Machiavellian is less likely to alter behavior. Therefore, the situation does not become a factor in that individual’s influence behavior, demonstrating again that the individual’s motivation source has a direct relationship with his or her influence tactic choice.
Machiavellianism in Initial and Repeated Influence Attempts
Machiavellians display superb negotiation skills, and their ability to influence is impressive (Christie & Geis, 1970). Kets de Vries and Miller (1985) related narcissism to the Machiavellian personality when they described the self-deceptive variety of narcissism. Narcissistic individuals were said to display a lack of empathy and fear of failure and were considered “ideal-hungry,” preoccupied with their own needs, and strongly desirous of being loved, as well as having a transactional/instrumental orientation.
Grams and Rogers (1989) examined influence tactics and personality characteristics and found that the choice of influence tactic differs dramatically according to whether a person is high or low in the Machiavellian disposition. Individuals with a high Machiavellian disposition are more motivated to succeed, more assertive, and less manipulative. Additionally, resistance from the target changes the leader’s influence strategy. Those high in the Machiavellian disposition prefer to use indirect (emotion) and non-rational (reward) persuasion techniques. High Machiavellians display positive emotional techniques (flattery, friendliness) that aid in their influence attempts. Individuals high in Machiavellianism want to succeed by using the least obtrusive means possible but are willing to resort to stronger or harder tactics if necessary.
Relations of the “Dark Triad” personality traits—Psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and Narcissism—with the variables of the Five-Factor Model and the HEXACO model of personality structure
The dark triad of traits are the self-obsession of narcissism, the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. “We have some evidence these traits may represent a successful evolutionary strategy,” Dr Jonason told New Scientist magazine.
By Caroline Zink
People are incredibly social beings, and we rely heavily on our interactions with others to thrive, and even survive, in the world. To avoid chaos in these interactions, humans create social norms. These rules and regulations establish appropriate and acceptable ways for us to act and respond to each other. For instance, when waiting in line, we expect people also to wait their turn. As a result, we get upset when someone decides to cut in line: they violated a social norm.
But how are social norms maintained? And what makes us comply with social norms? Primarily, the answer is that, if we don’t follow the rules, we might get in trouble. Numerous studies demonstrate that, when the threat of punishment is removed, people tend to disregard social norms. The neat and orderly line disintegrates.
It remains unclear, however, how the brain processes the threat of punishment when deciding whether or not to comply with a social norm. A recent study conducted by neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer and his colleagues at the University of Ulm in Germany and the University of Zurich in Switzerland tried to shed light on this mystery. The researchers put 24 healthy male students in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner to see what parts of the brain were activated during a two-person social exchange with real monetary stakes.
In this game, a research participant (“Person A”) was given money, and had to decide how much he wanted to give to another person (“Person B”) and how much he wanted to keep. In one variation of the game—the “punishment threat condition”—Person B could punish Person A if he or she believed that Person A had divided the money unfairly, or violated the “fairness social norm.” In another situation, there was no punishment threat and Person A could act freely without worrying about the consequences. The researchers sought to find out how much more money Person A would give to Person B under the threat of punishment, and what brain circuits are associated with this change in behavior.
Not surprisingly, the threat of punishment made people act more fairly. In the “punishment threat condition” people split the money close to equally. However, when Person B had no recourse, the people given the money acted very differently and gave away, on average, less than 10 percent of the money.
One of the interesting things about social norm compliance, however, is that there is tremendous individual variation. Some people would never cut in line or act unfairly, whereas others don’t think twice about it. Using a questionnaire, the researchers measured each participant’s “Machiavellism,” a combination of selfishness and opportunism, which is often used to describe someone’s tendency to manipulate other people for personal gain. Sure enough, the people with high Machiavellism scores gave less money away when there was no punishment threat and were best at avoiding punishment when the threat of punishment was present. Therefore, these individuals earned the most money overall.
When the researchers looked at the brain activity of people playing this simple game, they found a consistent pattern. One region in the frontal lobes, the orbitofrontal cortex, seemed to be responsible for evaluating the potential for punishment. In other words, it figured out whether or not violating the social norm would get us in trouble. A second brain region, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, was responsible for inhibiting the natural tendency to keep most of the money (this would be the greedy thing to do) if this action might lead to future punishment. Interestingly, these brain areas only were activated when the threat of punishment came from a real person, and not a computer that was programmed to act like a real person.
Furthermore, just as Machiavellism personality traits influenced how people behave, these traits also relate to what is happening in the brain. The orbitofrontal cortex was most activated in the more self-interested, opportunistic people. This finding makes sense because, if the orbitofrontal cortex is helping people detect and evaluate threats, then it should be most active in people who are worried about getting punished. This study can also help us understand what might be happening in the brains of people who struggle to follow social norms, which is what happens in mental illnesses such as psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder.
Of course, many different variables not studied in this experiment can also affect social norm compliance. Even a norm as seemingly straightforward as “fairness” can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. The social norm of fairness, after all, does not always mean an equal distribution of goods. Someone may deserve more based on effort, talent or simply the feeling of entitlement that comes from social status. For instance, one could argue that in the non-punishment situation, Person A was put in a position of power, because he or she was given complete control of the money. On the other hand, when Person B is given the right to punish Person A, Person B is now put in a superior position of power. And accordingly, the social norm for Person A changes: it is no longer acceptable for him to keep all the money for himself. This adjustment suggests that the brain activity evident in the Spitzer study could, in part, be related to changes in power and status between the punishment and non-punishment condition. In fact, in a recent study, we found that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was more activated when interacting with a person who is in superior social position.
Damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in humans has been associated with disinhibited or socially inappropriate behaviour and emotional changes. Some of the changes may be related to difficulty in responding correctly to rewards and punishers, in that these patients have difficulty in learning to correct their choice of a visual stimulus when it is no longer associated with reward. We extend this fundamental approach by investigating the relationship between frontal dysfunction and impulsive behaviour, the behavioural, emotional and personality changes seen in patients with prefrontal cortex damage, and thus in addition illuminate the cognitive and biological processes that are impaired in impulsive people. OFC patients (n = 23) performed more impulsively on both self-report and cognitive/behavioural tests of impulsivity, reported more inappropriate ‘frontal’ behaviours, and performed worse on a stimulus-reinforcement association reversal task, than non-OFC prefrontal cortex lesion control (n = 20) and normal control (n = 39) participants. Further, OFC patients experienced more subjective anger than non-OFC and normal participants, and less subjective happiness than normals; and had a faster subjective sense of time (overestimated and underproduced time intervals) than normal controls, while non-OFC patients did not differ from normals. Finally, both OFC and non-OFC patients were less open to experience than normal participants. There were no differences between OFC patients, non-OFC lesion patients and normal controls on all other personality traits, most notably extraversion. In a spatial working memory task, the non-OFC group, most of whom had dorsolateral prefrontal cortex lesions, were impaired in that they repeatedly returned to previously chosen empty locations (‘within errors’), whereas OFC patients were not impaired on this measure. Thus there is a dissociation between the effects of OFC damage which does not affect this measure of spatial working memory but does affect impulsive and inappropriate behaviour, reversal, personality, time perception and emotion; and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex damage which does affect this measure of spatial working memory, but not impulsive and inappropriate behaviour, reversal, personality, time perception and emotion. The effects of OFC damage on impulsive and related behaviours described here have implications for understanding impulsive behaviour.
By Jennifer S. Beer, Oliver P. John, Donatella Scabini and Robert T. Knight
The role of the orbitofrontal cortex in social behavior remains a puzzle. Various theories of the social functions of the orbitofrontalcortex focus on the role of this area in either emotional processing or its involvement in onlinemonitoring of behavior (i.e., self-monitoring). The present research attempts to integrate these two theories by examining whether improving the self-monitoring of patients with orbitofrontaldamage is associated with the generation of emotions needed to guide interpersonal behavior. Patients with orbitofrontal damage, patients with lateral prefrontal damage, and healthy controls took part in an interpersonal task. After completing the task, participants’ self-monitoring was increased by showing them a videotape of their task performance. In comparison to healthy controls and patients with lateral prefrontal damage, orbitofrontaldamage was associated with objectively inappropriate social behavior. Although patients with orbitofrontaldamage were aware of social norms of intimacy, they were unaware that their task performance violated these norms. The embarrassment typically associated with inappropriate social behavior was elicited in these patients only after their self-monitoring increased from viewing their videotaped performance. These findings suggest that damage to the orbitofrontalcortex impairs self-insight that may preclude the generation of helpful emotional information. The results highlight the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in the interplay of self-monitoring and emotional processing and suggest avenues for neurorehabilitation of patients with social deficits subsequent to orbitofrontal damage.
Another trip hop band i like a lot (they did some good stuff with Massive Attack)
Portishead – Mysterons
Inside your pretending
Crimes have been swept aside
Somewhere where they can forget
Divine upper reaches
Still holding on
This ocean will not be grasped
All for nothing
Did you really want
Refuse to surrender
Strung out until ripped apart
Who dares, dares to condemn
All for nothing
Did you really want
July 17, 2008 Posted by MG | brain, mind, neurology, neuroscience, Politics, psychology, Science | and Narcissism, “Dark Triad", brain, Caroline Zink, CHARISMATIC PSYCHOPATHS, Cleckley, corporate, DISTEMPERED PSYCHOPATHS, Il Principe(The Prince), influence of enviroment, lack of empathy, Machiavelli personality test, Machiavellianism, Niccolò Machiavelli, opportunism, orbitofrontal cortex, PRIMARY PSYCHOPATHS, psychology of power, Psychopathy, punishment, Rebecca Horton, Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis, rules, SECONDARY PSYCHOPATHS, selfishness, social norms, sociopaths, Why the brain follows the rules | Leave a comment
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