The Relationship Between Machiavellianism, Self-Monitoring, Emotional Expressivity and Sarcasm Production Patricia Rockwell Department of Communication

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, LA 70504

Submitted to the Communication and Social Cognition Division of the National Communication Association for presentation at the annual convention, November, 2006, in San Antonio, TX

2 Abstract A survey of 150 university students, in addition to 68 non-students recruited by the student respondents, was conducted to determine personality traits that influence sarcasm production. Regression analysis indicated that two subscales (Negative Tactics and

Positive View of Human Nature) of the Christie-Geis Machiavellianism Scale (Mach V) and one subscale (Performance) of the Lennox and Wolfe Self-Monitoring Scale (SMS) significantly predicted sarcasm usage as determined by the Sarcasm Self-Report Scale (Ivanko, Pexman, & Olineck, 2004)

3 The Relationship Between Machiavellianism, Self-Monitoring, Emotional Expressivity and Sarcasm Production Most research on sarcasm production considers the linguistic and rhetorical features of sarcastic utterances (Clark & Gerrig, 1984; Jorgensen, Miller, & Sperber, 1984; Kreuz & Glucksberg, 1989; Sperber, 1984). Scant studies have actually investigated characteristics of communicators who produce sarcasm. Of those studies that have examined users of sarcasm, most have explored demographic features such as age, culture, gender, and relationship (Gibbs, 2000; Rockwell, 2001, 2003; Rockwell & Theriot, 2001). Yet to be determined are individual personality traits that facilitate or promote the production of sarcasm. This determination is crucial because although relatively infrequent in conversation, sarcasm is a potent, often destructive behavior that can have confusing if not devastating effects on communication (Glaser et al., 2000). Rockwell (2005), for example, found a significant but small positive correlation between speakers’ cognitive complexity and their expression of sarcasm. The present study hopes to expand on this approach and determine individual traits that promote sarcasm production with the ultimate goal of providing a clearer picture of the sarcastic speaker. An extensive number of instruments have been developed to measure sarcasm recognition (Clark & Gerrig, 1984; Gerrig & Goldvarg, 2000; Jorgensen, Miller & Sperber, 1984; Kaufer, 1981; Kreuz & Glucksberg, 1989; Slugoski & Turnbull, 1988; Sperber, 1984 Williams, 1984), but few to measure sarcasm production. Ivanko, Pexman, and Olineck’s (2004) Sarcasm Self-Report Scale (SSS) is a recent attempt to measure individuals’ reports of their own behavior regarding sarcasm use and the types of situations that prompt these behaviors. The researchers report four subscales for the SSS:

4 General Sarcasm, Face-Saving, Embarrassment Diffusion, and Frustration Diffusion. The questions in the scale ask respondents to rate (on a scale from “1” for “not at all” to “7” for “extremely likely”) the likelihood that they would use sarcasm in various situations. The four factors reported were determined through principle components analysis (PCA) in two separate studies conducted by the researchers. “General Sarcasm” was found to measure overall tendency to use sarcasm. “Face-saving” measures the likelihood of using sarcasm with “new acquaintances or when complimenting.” “Embarrassment Diffusion” measures how speakers use sarcasm to downplay their own accomplishments and “Frustration Diffusion” measures how speakers use sarcasm to decrease the annoyance of various frustrating situations. The researchers found that participants’ responses on the SSS predicted their behavior in a sarcasm production task and also predicted their ability to quickly and correctly recognize sarcastic messages. Personality has been studied extensively and psychologists have developed several methods for categorizing major personality differences. Researchers have postulated that individuals with certain personality types may be more inclined to produce certain behaviors than those with other personality types. For example, one early personality categorization system was the Myers-Briggs. Of the four personality types described by Keirsey (1998) in his adaptation of the Myers-Briggs Personality Test (artisans, guardians, idealists, and rationals), artisans are seen as most likely to use sarcasm, and rationals are seen as least likely to use sarcasm. Artisans, according to Keirsey (1998) are more prone to use sarcasm “because of their tendency to do whatever is necessary, even if that means being rude” (p. 47). Rationals were argued to be the least sarcastic personality type in Keirsey’s system because they maintain a

5 greater distance from people than other types (p. 163). These observations, however, remain to be tested. Even so, they represent an initial attempt at connecting personality traits to sarcasm production. Psychologists have investigated and labeled numerous personality traits that have proven relevant in the study of individual behavior. Traits such as altruism, emotional intelligence, creativity, neuroticism, extraversion, optimism, are just a few of many concepts devised by psychologists to measure individual personality traits. Some, if not all, of these personality traits may influence individuals’ production of sarcasm. However, in attempting to focus on those traits with the greatest possible association to sarcasm production, three well-investigated traits have been selected for this study: Machiavellianism, self-monitoring, and emotional expressivity. The rationale for inclusion of each of these three variables will be discussed individually in the following sections. Machiavellianism and Sarcasm Production Machiavellianism is the personality trait of manipulation (Allsopp, Eysenck, & Eysenck, 1991; Christie & Geis, 1970, McCutcheon, 2002). The High Mach is “a socially malevolent character with behavioral tendencies toward self-promotion, emotional coldness, duplicity, and aggressiveness.” (Paulhus & Williams, 2002, p. 557). High Machs are controlling and use others to their own advantage. They tend to have “Type A” personalities and are less ethically-oriented than Low Machs (Rayburn & Rayburn, 1996). Scientists have found that there is no significant correlation between Machiavellianism and intelligence, and have also found that high levels of Machiavellianism do not necessarily lead to social success (Wilson & Miller, 1996).

6 Some researchers have reported a correlation between Machiavellianism and psychopathy (McHoskey et. al., 2001). In one study, male medical students rated themselves higher than female medical students on Machiavellianism (Merrill et. al., 1993). There has been little research on the language behaviors of high and low Machs. In one study, High Machs used more first person-singular pronouns than Low Machs (Ickes et al, 1986). It is intuitively appealing to imagine High Machs as using language features—including sarcasm--that they believe will aid them in achieving their goals. The standard test for Machiavellianism is Christie and Geis’ (1970) Mach V Scale. This 20-item survey has been modified from the former Mach IV test, by replacing forced-choice items with Likert-type items having responses of “1” to “7.” Corral and Calvete’s (2000) confirmatory factor analyses of the Mach IV produced four factors: Positive Interpersonal Tactics, Negative Interpersonal Tactics, Positive View of Human Nature, and Negative View of Human Nature. The “Positive Interpersonal Tactics” subscale measures actual behaviors reported by respondents used to achieve their goals and the “Negative Interpersonal Tactics” subscale measures negative behaviors reported by respondents used to achieve their goals. The “Positive View of Human Nature” subscale measures positive attitudes about others that are held by respondents, and the “Negative View of Human Nature” subscale measures negative attitudes about others that are held by respondents. The survey includes items such as “I handle people by telling them what they want to hear,” (Positive Interpersonal Tactics), “I would be prepared to walk all over people to get what I want” (Negative Interpersonal Tactics), “I believe there’s a sucker born every minute” (Negative View of

7 Human Nature), and “Honesty is the best policy in all cases.” (Positive View of Human Nature) (Christie & Geis, 1970). Various researchers have used and examined the Mach IV and Mach V, and some have complained that the test does not produce reliable results (e. g., Ray, 1983). Even so, the Mach tests remain the gold standard for determining Machiavellianism. The Machiavellian individual has a cynical view of human behavior and a willingness to put that cynicism to practice. An individual who uses sarcasm is expressing cynicism about something, but for some reason is not willing to state this cynicism directly. Possibly this indirect approach is a strategy of high Machs. Due to these observations, the following hypothesis is presented: H1: There will be a positive correlation between Machiavellianism (as measured by the four subscales of the Mach V) and sarcasm production (as measured by the four subscales of the SSS). Self-Monitoring and Sarcasm Production Self-monitoring is the trait of observing one’s own behavior and adjusting that behavior when necessary to adapt to other people and surroundings (Day, 2002; Gudykunst, 1985; Lindsey & Green, 1987). The ability to self-monitor is considered integral to effective social functioning (Riggio & Friedman, 1982). High self-monitors tend to adapt to situations, letting the requirements of the situation dictate their behavior. Low self-monitors behave relatively the same way in all circumstances and are less aware or less concerned about their own behavior. One theorist (Behncke, 2005) notes that in actuality, Highs monitor the behavior of others rather than their own behavior in order to determine how their own behavior compares and then typically

8 adjust their behavior based upon these observations. Lows do not monitor their own or others’ behaviors because they have little or no interest in adjusting their own behavior. One study found that students rated high self-monitoring teachers better than low selfmonitoring teachers (Larkin, 1987). Little research has been conducted regarding the language behaviors of selfmonitors. In one study, high self-monitors used more second and third person pronouns than did low self-monitors (Ickes et. al., 1986) implying a desire to not take responsibility for one’s own views. In another study (Galbraith, 1996), high selfmonitors produced more new ideas after writing notes than did low self-monitors. However, this result was reversed when subjects were asked to write finished texts, with low self-monitors producing more new ideas than high self-monitors. The use of sarcasm implies a muting or indirection of one’s true feelings, something one might expect of high self-monitors. On the other hand, low selfmonitors may use a more negative abusive form of sarcasm when they are angry because they are not particularly concerned about what others think of them. Self-monitoring and related concepts have been measured in a variety of different ways. The Lennox and Wolfe Self-Monitoring Scale (SMS) (Schutte & Malouff, 1999) is a frequently used instrument to measure self-monitoring and appears to be comprised of two factors: Sensitivity and Performance. The “Sensitivity” subscale measures individuals’ ability to sense how others view them, and the “Performance” subscale measures their ability to put this sensitivity to use. Sample items include: “I am often able to read people’s true emotions correctly through their

9 eyes,”(Sensitivity) and “When I feel that the image I am portraying isn’t working I can readily change it to something that does” (Performance). The implication with self-monitoring is that people monitor their own behavior so that they can change those behaviors that are not interpersonally successful. The question with self-monitoring and sarcasm use is whether a high self-monitor, who is more sensitive to others and more willing to adapt behaviors, would recognize when sarcasm might be used successfully and thus, use it more or less frequently. Due to the fact that it is uncertain how any correlation between self-monitoring and sarcasm production might evolve, the following research question is posed: RQ1: What correlation, if any, exists between self-monitoring (measured by the two subscales of the SMS) and sarcasm production (measured by the four subscales of the SSS)? Emotional Expressivity Some individuals are more emotionally expressive than others (Bippus & Young, 2005; Friedman & Miller-Herringer, 1991). “An individual is emotionally expressive to the extent that he or she manifests emotional impulses behaviorally” (Gross & John, 1997, p. 435). These researchers point out that individuals differ greatly in their expression of emotion. They differ in the strength or valence of emotion that is required to activate expression and also they differ in the way they modulate or filter the emotions that they express. Some individuals allow their emotions expression readily while others inhibit the expression of the emotions they experience. The reasons for these differences include cultural “display rules” as well as individual differences in the intensity of the emotional experience. Gross and John’s study

10 determined that individuals are capable of recognizing the emotions they experience as well as how they express these emotions. In another study (Hess, Senécal, Kirouac, Herrera, Phillippot, & Kleck, 2000), gender differences were found in stereotypes that people possess regarding the way men and women experience and express emotions, with men being perceived of as experiencing and expressing positive emotions more than women, and women being perceived of as experiencing and expressing negative emotions more than men. In Hess et. al’s study, men and women also reported similar reactions about their own experience and expression of emotion. The Berkeley Expressivity Questionnaire (BEQ) (Gross & John, 1995) is a standard test of emotional expressiveness. It includes 16 items that produce three subscales (impulse strength, positive expressivity, and negative expressivity). The “Impulse Strength” subscale concerns how strong individuals perceive their emotions. The “Positive Expressivity” subscale concerns whether and to what extent individuals perceive that they express positive emotions, and the “Negative Expressivity” subscale concerns whether and to what extent individuals perceive that they express negative emotions. Sample items include: “I have strong emotions” (Impulse Strength), “I sometimes cry during sad movies,”(Negative Expressivity), and “When I am happy, my feelings show” (Positive Expressivity). A key question is whether the use of sarcasm is an indication or higher or lower emotional expressivity. Possibly, more expressive individuals will present anger more readily when they feel it by using sarcasm. On the other hand, individuals who are not emotionally expressive may use sarcasm to attenuate their anger expression. Due to the

11 dearth of research on relationships between emotional expressivity and sarcasm production, the following research question is posed: RQ2: What correlation exists, if any, between emotional expressivity (measured by the BEQ and its three subscales) and sarcasm production (measured by the four subscales of the SSS)? Method We surveyed students in all sections of communication courses at a large southern university during the summer of 2005. Student respondents completed the survey during class. After completion of the student surveys, student participants were asked to distribute surveys to non-students whom they knew (one male and one female— maximum of two) so as to acquire a larger, more diverse sample. Students were given extra credit for returning surveys completed by non-students. No identifying information was asked on the student surveys; however, on the non-student surveys, we asked for the respondent’s names and phone numbers so that we could call to verify that the respondents were who they said they were. Following verification, the respondents’ names were removed from the survey. A removable cover letter was attached to all surveys which explained the purpose of the survey and which included contact information if respondents wished to discuss the survey with the investigator. A removable consent form followed the cover letter and was removed by the research assistant when the respondent returned the survey. The consent forms were kept only long enough to ensure that the student respondents received their extra credit.

12 Instrument The survey consisted of demographic questions, the Sarcasm Self-Survey (SSS) (Ivanko, Pexman, & Olineck, 2004), a modified version of the Mach V (Christie & Geis, 1970), the Lennox and Wolfe Self-Monitoring Scale (SMS) (Schutte & Malouff, 1999), and the Berkeley Expressivity Index (BEQ) (Schutte & Malouff, 1999). Results We collected data from 150 students and 68 non-students for a total of 218 respondents (males = 87, females = 131). Summary statistics of the sarcasm questions revealed interesting results (see Table 1 for sarcasm question means). The question on the SSS with the highest mean score (greatest likelihood) was “What is the likelihood you would use sarcasm with your best friend?” (m = 5.66, sd = 1.72). The question with the lowest mean score (least likelihood) was “What is the likelihood you would use sarcasm with a new colleague at work?” (m = 2.58, sd = 1.54). In order to determine the relationship between the independent variables of Machiavellianism, self-monitoring, and emotional expressivity and the dependent variable of self-reported sarcasm use, linear regression analyses were conducted. We intended to determine if we could predict respondents’ self-reports of sarcasm use from their self-reports of Machiavellianism, self-monitoring, and emotional expressivity. The overall regression analysis was significant (see Table 2 for regression analysis results), allowing further investigation of the individual variables. The analysis produced significant results for components of two of the three scales: two subscales of Machiavellianism (Negative Interpersonal Tactics and Positive View of Human Nature) and one subscale of Self-Monitoring (Performance) on the combined four subscales of

13 sarcasm use. The variation accounted for, as indicated by the R², was 26%. This suggests that these three subscale factors predict over a quarter of total sarcasm usage. Emotional expressivity did not predict sarcasm usage, nor did the Positive Interpersonal Tactics or Negative View of Human Nature subscales of the Mach V, nor the impulse control subscale of Self-Monitoring Scale. Discussion This study attempted to determine which, if any, of the personality traits of Machiavellianism, self-monitoring, and emotional expressivity, would predict sarcasm use as determined by self-reports. We found a strong correlation between two Machiavellian subscales (Negative Interpersonal Tactics and Positive View of Human Nature) and the self-monitoring subscale of Performance with sarcasm use. The fact that we found significance between only some subscales of these commonly measured personality traits cautions researchers to remember that many of the instruments used in social science research are multifaceted. Indeed, the Mach V’s four components measure behavior (Positive and Negative Interpersonal Tactics) as well as attitude (Positive and Negative Views of Human Nature). In our study, one tactics component and one attitude component were strongly correlated with sarcasm use. This finding is unusual. One might expect the Negative Interpersonal Tactics subscale to predict sarcasm use better than Positive Interpersonal Tactics. However, it is strange that the Positive View of Human Nature subscale was a significant predictor of sarcasm use and not the Negative View of Human Nature subscale. One possible explanation is that two of the Positive View of Human Nature subscale’s questions emphasized honesty, and those who see themselves as honest may be more willing to use sarcasm.

14 We found also that the Performance subscale of the Self-Monitoring Scale significantly predicted sarcasm use—but not the Sensitivity subscale. Here, the key appears to be actual behavior rather than attitude serving as the predictor. Individuals who reported that they actually act on the information they acquire from the monitoring that they do were more likely to report sarcasm use. Individuals who are sensitive to how others view them may not always act on this behavior and thus may be less likely to use sarcasm. We were surprised to find that emotional expressivity did not correlate with reported sarcasm usage. Is the sarcastic individual attempting to control their true feelings when they use sarcasm? Or do sarcastic remarks represent a genuine revelation of speakers’ true feelings couched in socially acceptable terms? This study did not provide an answer to this question. We did not find that the three subscales of the BEQ were positively correlated with the SSS as were two subscales of the MACH V and one of the SMS; we believed we would see similar correlations with the BEQ’s subscales. This did not happen. It appears then, that the behaviors measured by the BEQ have little connection to sarcasm production. That is, it appears that heavy sarcasm producers do not necessarily see themselves as emotionally expressive. However, when one considers emotional expression, one assumes the speaker is expressing emotion accurately and willingly. This may not be what actually happens. Indeed, some sarcastic individuals may, for some reason, retain greater control and be less emotionally expressive. Finally, as some

researchers have noted, “. . . from an evolutionary perspective, language did not emerge

15 as a vehicle to express emotions” (Pennebaker et al., 2003, p. 27). Indeed, emotion is typically conveyed through nonverbal rather than verbal means. Thus, some of the traits of manipulative and monitoring behaviors seem to have a strong relationship to sarcasm production. These findings help “flesh out” the picture of the sarcastic speaker. Sarcasm users appear to practice negative manipulation of others while maintaining a positive view of human nature. They are able and willing to adjust to the information provided by self-monitoring. This study considered how psychological traits impact the language behavior called sarcasm. A future study may reverse this approach and examine how sarcasm usage influences psychological traits. As noted by other researchers, “The words people use in their daily lives can reveal important aspects of their social, psychological worlds.” (Pennebaker et al., 2003, p. 1).

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19 Pennebaker, J. W., Mehl, M. R., & Niederhoffer, K. G. (2003). Psychological aspects of natural language use: Our words, our selves. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 547-577. Ray, J. J. (1983). Defective validity of the Machiavellianism scale. The Journal of Social Psychology, 119, 291-292. Rayburn, J. M., & Rayburn, L. G. (1996). Relationship between Machiavellianism and Type A personality and ethical-orientation. Journal of Business Ethics, 15 (11), 1209-1219. Riggio, R. E., & Friedman, H. S. (1982). The interrelationships of self-monitoring factors, personality traits, and nonverbal social skills. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 7(1), 33-45. Rockwell, P. (2001). Facial expression and sarcasm. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 93, 47-50. Rockwell, P. (2003). Empathy and the expression and recognition of sarcasm by close relations and strangers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 97, 251-256. Rockwell, P. (2005). The effects of cognitive complexity and communication apprehension on the expression and recognition of sarcasm. Paper presented to the Language and Social Interaction Division of the Southern States Communication Association’s annual convention. Baton Rouge, LA. Rockwell, P., & Theriot, E. (2001). Culture, gender, and gender mix in encoders of sarcasm. Communication Research Reports, 18, 44-52. Schutte, N. S., & Malouff, J. M. (1999). Measuring emotional intelligence and related constructs. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen.

20 Slugoski, B. R., & Turnbull, W. (1988). Cruel to be kind and kind to be cruel: Sarcasm, banter, and social relations. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 7(2), 101-121. Sperber, D. (1984). Verbal irony: Pretense or echoic mention? Journal of Experimental Psychology, 113, 130-136 Williams, J. P. (1984) Does mention (or pretense) exhaust the concept of irony? Journal of Experimental Psychology, 113, 127-129. Wilson, D. S., & Miller, R. R. (1996). Machiavellianism: A synthesis of the evolutionary and psychological literatures. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 285-299.

21 Table 1 Sarcasm Self-Report (SSS) Item Means and Standard Deviations (scale: “1” = “not at all,” “7” = “extremely”) Mean Standard Deviation 1.Use sarcasm with someone you just met 2. How sarcastic are you? 3. Use sarcasm to insult someone 4. Use sarcasm with best friend 5. How sarcastic would friends say you are? 6. Use sarcasm with new colleague at work 7. Use sarcasm to compliment someone 8. How often do you make sarcastic comments? 9. When you and roommate are arguing about chores 10. When you score winning point for team 11. When you made mistake on assignment 12. When you are in long line at grocery store 13. When you just got engaged and telling friends 14. When you are celebrating promotion with family 15. When you are late to work and lock keys in car 3.34 4.56 5.24 5.66 4.60 2.58 2.79 3.91 4.23 3.48 3.50 4.68 2.63 2.88 4.44 1.66 1.59 1.80 1.72 1.72 1.54 1.57 1.57 1.78 1.97 1.89 1.92 1.68 1.82 2.14

16. Self-report of number of sarcastic comments made each week (range= 0-300)



22 Table 2 Regression Analysis for Effects of Machiavellianism, Self-Monitoring, and Emotional Expressivity on Sarcasm Use Variable Machiavellianism Negative Tactics Positive Tactics Negative View.11 Positive View Self-Monitoring Performance Sensitivity Emotional Expressivity Positive Negative Impulse Control B SEB t

.24 .07 .08 .27 .14 -.02 .12 .00 -.10

.10 .08 1.66 .07 .06 .08 .10 .07 .07

2.31* .81 3.54** 2.10* -.23 1.26 .02 .02

Analysis of Variance Source Regression Residual Total R² = .26 * p< .05, ** p < .01 SS 59.08 156.07 215.16 DF 9 160 169 MS 6.56 .97 1.27 F 6.73**

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