Social Butterfly, Master Manipulator - PsychTests’ Study Reveals The Dark Side Of Social Insight

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New study by reveals that social insight can be used to take advantage of others if not tempered by other emotional intelligence traits.

People who have a good social insight but lack empathy can be manipulative, deceitful, and egotistical.

Social insight without empathy can be a toxic combination.

Social insight is a valuable skill, but it must be balanced out with empathy

Social insight, a key factor in emotional intelligence, is largely considered a valuable skill. Being able to perceptively and accurately appraise people and anticipate what they might say or do allows a person to adjust their own behavior and social approach accordingly, avoiding awkward missteps, hurt feelings, and conflict. But is there a dark side to social insight? Can a keen understanding of human nature be used for evil? Research by PsychTests reveals that social insight, if not complemented by empathy and a strong sense of social responsibility, can lead to dishonest, deceptive, and manipulative behavior.

Researchers at PsychTests analyzed the profiles of people who took their Machiavellian Personality Test, focusing specifically on 60 individuals who are socially insightful but not socially responsible, and who lack empathy.

Here’s what PsychTests study reveals:

  •     25% would rather have fake but powerful friends than un-influential, real friends.
  •     72% would rather do bad things to others than have bad things done to them.
  •     52% would rather live a life of success than a life lived according to their values.
  •     50% would rather be a cheating winner than an honest loser.
  •     25% would rather be feared than loved.
  •     50% have dated or befriended someone solely to gain something.
  •     43% refuse to help others if they can’t benefit from it in some way.
  •     45% admit that they only look out for themselves.
  •     52% believe that “all is fair in love and war.”
  •     53% believe that the end justifies the means.
  •     38% believe that cheating or lying is only wrong if a person gets caught.
  •     70% believe that using insincere flattery is justifiable.
  •     65% believe that in order to get ahead, one must “step on a few toes.”
  •     70% believe that listening to gossip allows them to gain valuable information.
  •     43% claim that if an ignorant or naïve person is taken advantage of, it’s their own fault.
  •     47% can “turn on the charm” at will.
  •     55% are willing to pretend to be someone they’re not in order to get what they want (e.g. lying about their job title/achievements in an interview).
  •     50% have been labeled as “manipulative”
  •     45% have been called “ruthless”
  •     43% have been pegged as an “egomaniac”
  •     73% have been told that they are “selfish”
  •     73% have been labeled “mean”
  •     58% are seen as “opportunistic”
  •     2% have been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
  •     4% have been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder.

In order to get something they want…

  •     90% have resorted to lying
  •     81% guilt-trip others
  •     64% use intimidation
  •     50% use blackmail
  •     75% use manipulation
  •     45% flirt
  •     76% use flattery

In order to move up the career ladder…

  •     23% would resort to blackmail
  •     21% would sleep with someone in a position of authority
  •     29% would dig up dirt on other people
  •     15% would sabotage other people’s work
  •     39% would be willing to lie
  •     11% would take credit for an achievement they never actually attained, while 13% would take credit for someone else’s idea
  •     39% would suck up to upper management

“There have been several debates going on about the ‘dark side’ of emotional intelligence; and theoretically, it makes sense,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “Take con artists as an example. They have a good understanding of human nature; they know how to play to people’s emotions and are very socially adaptable. They understand what motivates people’s emotions and behaviors and use it to their advantage. The only thing that differentiates them from healthy, emotionally intelligent people is their lack of empathy. These master manipulators and deceivers put themselves first, will do anything to get what they want, and feel little if any remorse. Social insight is a valuable skill, but it must be balanced out with empathy.”

Want to find out if you have a touch of Machiavellianism? Go to

Professional users of this assessment (therapists, life coaches and counselors) can request a free demo of the Machiavellian Personality Test or any other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: [

About is a subsidiary of PsychTests AIM Inc. is a site that creates an interactive venue for self-exploration with a healthy dose of fun. The site offers a full range of professional-quality, scientifically validated psychological assessments that empower people to grow and reach their real potential through insightful feedback and detailed, custom-tailored analysis.

PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
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