I watched a video (First Man) on the evolution of humans that suggested the birth of language was probably the key to "plotting" and politics.

I'd like to learn more about plotting, but it's a hard thing to search for online, because the word plot is so frequently used in the context of plotting a thing's position (on a graph, for example).

Conspire and conspiracy are also inconvenient search terms because there's so much propaganda to wade through.

Is there a technical term for plotting or conspiring?

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    $\begingroup$ I added a link to the video. However, I can't remember where in the video they made the statement about the origin of plotting and politics, though I think it was toward the end. You need a subscription to watch the entire video, and my subscription lapsed, so I can't access it at the moment. $\endgroup$ – David Blomstrom Oct 23 '17 at 0:58

Merriam-Webster's gives the following synonyms:

conspiracy, design, intrigue, machination, scheme

Intrigue yields a number of hits on books in Google Scholar, e.g.:

Also, Machination AND intrigue yields a number of hits, such as

'Machination' alone yields a lot of unrelated (industrial) stuff, so I think it's important to use additional identifiers when searching for literature, such as synonyms, antonyms or couple them with the topic of interest, e.g. 'brain mechanisms', or 'gender differences'.


Is there a technical term for plotting or conspiring?

What you are describing is reminiscent of the personality trait called Machiavellianism. The construct was first described by Christie and Geiss in 1970, and refers to conduct that comports with the political philosophy of Italian writer Niccolò Machiavelli in 1532:

... manipulativeness and deceit, cynical views toward human nature, and a cold, calculating attitude towards others... cunning, deceit, and the notion that "means justify the ends.

From: Machiavellianism, Cognition, and Emotion: Understanding how the Machiavellian Thinks, Feels, and Thrives. Machiavellianism is part of what's called the dark triad of personality, which also includes narcissism and psychopathy.

I think Machiavellianism is as close as you'll get for what you've described. Here's an interesting study looking at personality ratings of Clinton and Trump by experts in US politics:

We also find a substantial difference (d = 3.18, p < 0.001) on emotional stability between the two candidates: if Clinton is perceived as relatively high in this trait, Trump is, again, perceived as extremely low. Finally, our results confirm Trump's high scores for perceived narcissism and psychopathy. On those two traits Clinton is assessed as relatively average (d = 2.06 and 1.84, respectively; p < 0.001). For Machiavellianism as well our experts rated Trump more severely than Clinton (d = 1.51, p < 0.001).

Nai, A., & Maier, J. (2018). Perceived personality and campaign style of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Personality and Individual Differences, 121, 80-83.


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