Selfish jerks act the way they do for a reason. And not just because they’re simply hopeless cases of douchebaggery—okay, maybe they are.
Science of Us reports on a team of Hungarian researchers from the University of Pécs who found that jerks—they get the proud name of “Machiavellians”—enjoy manipulating people and situations to their advantage, most especially when the people involved are being fair and cooperative with them.
They enjoy it so much that they devise and strategize ways to counter peaceful resolutions.
Published in the Brain and Cognition journal, the study entitled “The Neural Basis of the Machiavellian Decision Making in Fair and Unfair Situations” digs deep into the implications of a simple game of trust played by student participants, who were divided in groups according to their level of Machiavellianism. The game consists of investing and returning money hopefully on equal terms. As you might’ve guessed, the Machiavellians won more money compared to their fair peers.
All this time, the manipulative players show high activities in certain parts of the brain. They restrict the parts that make them want to be fair while trying so hard to see where they can fuck up things for you.
It’s an interesting bit to know, especially if you want to handle those terrible, notoriously hungry, and poorly empathetic people at work. They can’t keep winning over you, after all.