Previous research into the potential ‘dark’ side of trait emotional intelligence (EI) has repeatedly demonstrated that trait EI is negatively associated with Machiavellianism. In this study, we reassess the potential dark side of trait EI, by testing whether Agreeableness mediates and/or moderates the relationship between trait EI and Machiavellianism. Hypothesized mediation and moderation effects were tested using a large sample of 884 workers who completed several self-report questionnaires. Results provide support for both hypotheses; Agreeableness was found to mediate and moderate the relationship between trait EI and Machiavellianism. Overall, results indicate that individuals high in trait EI tend to have low levels of Machiavellianism because they generally have a positive nature (i.e. are agreeable) and not because they are emotionally competent per se. Results also indicate that individuals high in ‘perceived emotional competence’ have the potential to be high in Machiavellianism, particularly when they are low in Agreeableness.


Trait Emotional Intelligence, Machiavellianism, Agreeableness, interpersonal skills, manipulation



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