Managing Control Freaks….Playing a Player
Individuals who engage in amoral and deceptive manipulation, and who tend to seek control over others and gain status for themselves are often described as Machiavellian…people with high Machiavellian traits are likely to bluff (pretend they have a strong hand by betting strongly) at a similar rate as low-Machiavellians. However, when they do bluff they bluff bigger…they like to be in control of situations and relationships.
…Machiavellians might have an increased propensity to bluff not because they are amoral or desire status in life, but because they dislike showing weakness and generally desire to be in control…when they get slow-played, being the target of manipulation elicits strong negative emotions,”
“High Machiavellians generally like to feel in control and dislike showing weakness and might thus be prone to feeling distraught when someone else displays control over them — by making them look weak and exploitable by using their own weapon of deception against them.
“We found a positive correlation between sensitivity to poker losses and Machiavellianism. Losing in poker was emotionally more stressful to High Machiavellians than others.”
The trait ‘distrust of others’ was found to be linked to the size of bluffs and the trait ‘desire for control’ was able to predict how often a person was likely to bluff. The characteristic ‘amorality’ was not linked to bluffing, but was linked to sensitivity to being slow-played.
“Bluffing is an act of deception, whereas getting slow-played is becoming the target of deception,” said Dr Yan. “Being the target of deception might trigger negative feelings of being exploited or manipulated, and these feelings seem to be more pronounced in individuals who have a disposition for amoral behaviour.”
“Our results also have practical relevance for worldwide poker players,” said Dr Yan. “For example, encountering players who are overly emotional after being the target of a slow-play might indicate they are high Machiavellians and prone to bluffing big. Calling bets made by these players might be more profitable than calling bets made by less emotional people.
“Also, being the target of a successful bluff might elicit strong emotional reactions from high Machiavellian players. This could happen when a player bluffs an opponent and provocatively shows the bluff afterwards.”