A recent study1https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886923000193?via%3Dihub published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences has shed light on the relationship between Machiavellianism, a personality trait characterized by a desire for power, status, and social dominance, and academic major choice.
The study, which analyzed a large multinational sample of 35,025 participants across 50 majors, found a significant association between Machiavellianism and the choice of college majors with high potential to acquire power and status.
In this article, we will look at the key findings from the study and how Machiavellianism may impact college major preferences.
Key Findings from the Study
The study1https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886923000193?via%3Dihub investigates the association between Machiavellianism and the choice of major for grad students.
It was observed that individuals who score high on the Dark Triad traits, including Machiavellianism, tend to choose college majors with high potential to acquire power and status. For example, a positive relationship was found between Dark Triad traits and choosing business/economics as the respective field of study. The study also found that Machiavellianism is more common among men than women.
Furthermore, the results showed substantial differences in Machiavellianism scores across various college majors, with participants who majored in Education reporting much lower Machiavellianism scores than those who majored in Economics.
Interestingly, differences in Machiavellian scores were found even in closely related majors (e.g., Medical vs. Medicine). The study also highlights that sex is an important variable to consider when examining the distribution of Machiavellianism across college majors, with male participants consistently scoring higher than female participants in all majors.
Channeling Your Inner Drive for Power and Success
The study revealed that individuals with high Dark Triad traits, including Machiavellianism, tend to gravitate towards college majors that offer greater opportunities for power and status. For example, a strong positive relationship was found between Dark Triad traits and the choice of business or economics as a field of study. This suggests that by understanding and channeling your inner drive for power and success, you can make more informed decisions about your academic and career paths.
To channel your inner drive for power and success, consider the following steps:
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Recognize your natural talents, areas where you excel, and areas where you may need to improve. This self-awareness can help you choose a college major that aligns with your strengths and interests. Take the time to reflect on your past experiences, both in and out of the classroom, to gain a better understanding of where your skills lie. Consider taking aptitude tests or seeking guidance from a career counselor to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses more accurately.
Or, consider taking our free personality quiz to see where your strengths lie: Big 5 (OCEAN) Personality Test
Set clear goals
Define what success and power mean to you and set specific, measurable, and achievable goals to work towards. This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout your academic journey. Break down your long-term goals into smaller, more manageable steps, and periodically reassess your progress to ensure you are on track.
Consider using SMART goals. SMART goals are outcome-based statements that turn vague goals into an achievable plan. SMART is an acronym for:
- Specific: Define an exact target that covers who, what, when, where, why, and which.
- Measurable: How will you measure success or failure? Use quantifiable metrics.
- Attainable: What tools are needed to reach the goal? Do you have everything at your disposal to achieve the outcome?
- Realistic/Relevant: Check that the target is achievable, practical, and consistent with personal or organizational goals. Will you need to alter your methods or organization to make this possible? Does this goal contribute to a greater mission?
- Time-bound: Plan a specific timeline to meet the goal. Work backwards from the deadline to outline the specific phases and steps that need to get done and the time period in which they need to be accomplished.
Learn how to set SMART goals here: Goal Setting: 5 Scientific Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals
Develop a growth mindset
Embrace challenges and view setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Cultivating a growth mindset can help you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. This involves recognizing that intelligence and abilities are not fixed but can be developed over time through effort and persistence. Seek out opportunities to challenge yourself both academically and personally, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek out resources when encountering difficulties.
For example, try making an “Uncomfortable” list. Cold showers, waking up early, going for a run, taking the bike instead of the subway, calling your mother on the phone—what things make you uncomfortable? Listing out the things out of your comfort zone is a great way to visualize something you can do. Check out 20 Simple Ways You Can Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Building relationships with influential people in your chosen field can help you access valuable resources, knowledge, and opportunities. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and leverage social media to connect with like-minded individuals. Be proactive in reaching out to others and be prepared to offer your own expertise and support in return. As you build your network, focus on cultivating genuine relationships rather than simply collecting contacts.
Work on your leadership skills
Develop the necessary skills to lead and inspire others, such as effective communication, empathy, and decision-making. These skills will not only help you succeed in your chosen field but also enable you to wield power responsibly and ethically. Take advantage of opportunities to practice your leadership skills, such as participating in student organizations, volunteering for leadership roles in group projects, or seeking out internships and part-time jobs that provide leadership experience.
Building resilience will help you navigate the inevitable setbacks and challenges of pursuing power and success. Develop healthy coping strategies, such as practicing mindfulness, engaging in regular physical activity, and maintaining a strong support network. Learn to reframe negative experiences and thoughts as opportunities for growth and stay focused on your long-term goals, even when faced with adversity.
Breaking and rerouting these pathways takes time and work, but every time you break the cycle, you build more resilience. Interrupt your negative thought spiral with silent or spoken reminders to yourself:
- “Wait, that is not true. I can figure this out.”
- “I am smart and have all the resources I need to get this done.”
- “My life is so much bigger than this moment. This too shall pass.”
- “I refuse to believe that thought. I know I am capable.”
Learn more on how to build resilience here: Low Frustration Tolerance: 9 Tips to Build Your Resilience
Self-Reflection and Finding Your Inclinations
The study also highlights the importance of self-reflection in understanding one’s inclinations towards power and status. By reflecting on your values, motivations, and desires, you can gain insight into your natural tendencies and make more informed decisions about your academic and career paths.
To engage in self-reflection and discover your inclinations:
Assess your values
Consider what is most important to you, such as wealth, power, status, or helping others. Understanding your core values can help you choose a college major that aligns with your personal beliefs and aspirations. Reflect on your past experiences and consider how your values have influenced your decisions and actions. This can help you better understand your priorities and how they may impact your academic and career choices.
Examine your motivations
Reflect on what drives you to pursue power and success. Are you motivated by a desire for recognition, financial security, or the ability to influence others? Identifying your motivations can help you choose a college major that satisfies your inner drive. Consider keeping a journal to track your thoughts and feelings about power and success, and look for patterns in your motivations over time.
Explore your interests
Take the time to explore various academic fields and career options. This can help you identify areas where your interests and inclinations towards power and success align. Attend workshops, guest lectures, and career fairs to learn more about different fields and industries. Speak with professionals in your areas of interest to gain insights into the day-to-day realities of their work and the potential for power and success within their fields.
Seek feedback from others
Consult with trusted friends, family members, or mentors to gain insight into your strengths, weaknesses, and potential inclinations towards power and status. This feedback can help you make more informed decisions about your college major and career path. Be open to constructive criticism and consider how others’ perspectives may reveal aspects of yourself that you may not have recognized.
Consider building more values from our list of values: Core Values List: The Only 216 Values You’ll Ever Need
How to Choose the Right Major for Your College Degree
Choosing the right major for your college degree can be a daunting task, but by following these tips, you can make a more informed decision that aligns with your interests, goals, and values.
- Reflect on your interests: Consider what subjects or activities you enjoy and excel at. List 10 things you love and consider how they could translate into a college major or career path.
- Research potential majors: Explore various academic fields and career options to identify areas where your interests and skills align. Attend workshops, guest lectures, and career fairs to learn more about different fields and industries.
- Consider career preparation: Choose a major that will prepare you for a specific career path or advanced study. Before you declare, take a class or two in the relevant discipline, check out the job prospects, and talk to professionals in the field.
- Assess your values and motivations: Reflect on your core values and what drives you to pursue a particular major or career. Understanding your motivations can help you choose a college major that satisfies your inner drive.
- Seek feedback from others: Consult with trusted friends, family members, or mentors to gain insight into your strengths, weaknesses, and potential inclinations towards a particular major. Be open to constructive criticism and consider how others’ perspectives may reveal aspects of yourself that you may not have recognized.
- Be open to change: Remember that your interests and goals may evolve over time, and it’s okay to change your major if you discover a new passion or realize that your initial choice isn’t the right fit. Stay flexible and open to new experiences, and don’t be afraid to explore different paths.
Understanding the impact of Machiavellianism on your college preferences can help you make more informed decisions about your academic and career paths. By channeling your inner drive for power and success, engaging in self-reflection, and finding your inclinations, you can set yourself up for a fulfilling and successful future.
As you embark on your academic journey, remember that the pursuit of power and success should be balanced with a commitment to ethical behavior and a genuine concern for the well-being of others. And while you’re at it, Check out our Science of People research hub, or if you’re looking to learn more about personality, read up on our toxic personality traits guide: 31 Toxic Personality Traits To Spot in Yourself And Others
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