Men Deemed More Manipulative Than Women at Work

Men Deemed More Manipulative Than Women at Work
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We’ve all had to deal with a manipulative coworker at some point or another but a new study has shown it’s more likely to be a man rather than a woman.

New findings from researchers at the University of Tasmania has found a linkage between gender and the likelihood of engaging in emotional manipulation in the workplace. Turns out, it’s more likely men will undertake some workplace sorcery in order to deceive career goals and they’ll scheme and manipulate in order to get it.

The study, published in the Australian Journal of Psychology, took a look at 765 Australian employees aged 18 years and older and asked them a series of questions. The questions tested for things like psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism — the three personality traits that form the Dark Triad.

The Dark Triad is a term used in psychology to determine individuals who are more likely to commit crimes. In the workplace, they tend to emotionally manipulate others using mood worsening strategies and inauthentic displays, according to the study.

The researchers found that it was men, not women, who were more likely to use behaviours found in the Dark Triad to get ahead in their careers.

“Females scored significantly lower than males on both emotional manipulation dimensions at work, whereas in previous research they scored lower than males on malicious forms only,” the study read.

“Being male predicted both forms of emotional manipulation in the multiple regressions, although the effect sizes were small.

“For males, emotional manipulation might be a more instinctive and perhaps an adaptive behaviour, particularly in the traditional male-orientated hierarchical organisation, wherein stereotypical male behaviours (assertiveness and independence) are valued.”

The study concluded that these behaviours, while contributing to a toxic work environment, were often rewarded given the hierarchical structures. It warned these individuals used the negative techniques mentioned in the study to get ahead of others in terms of promotions.

“Females manipulated less than males on both emotional manipulation dimensions, indicating that workplaces should be more careful of this nefarious behaviour in males,” the study read.

“Competitive workplaces may embolden individuals to use their emotional skills to get ahead.”

It’s not ideal news but for many, perhaps women who’ve been overlooked in favour of difficult male coworkers, it’s validating to hear a study supports the notion.

How to deal with a manipulative colleague

There’s never a simple solution if you’re dealing with a particularly toxic coworker but our friends over at Business Insider have some simple tips and tricks to help you out. Especially, when quitting isn’t really a good option right now.

Summarised, the tips include:

  • Think about the future and how you’ll look back on this blip in your career.
  • Try to look for the humour in the situation — is this person’s actions laughable?
  • Avoid running into your coworker, if you can. If not, limit interactions to just work.
  • Take note and log instances of their bad behaviour — it’ll help if you need to make a formal complaint.
  • Stand up for yourself where possible.
  • Find coworkers who might be feeling a similar issue with the problematic colleague.
  • Address the issues with the manipulative colleague in a diplomatic and documented way, if possible.

It’s not an easy fix but some of these might help to make your weeks a little easier until things improve in workplaces across the board.


  • For an instant pick-me-up, from the University of Life…
    The more someone is outwardly cruel and narcissistic to you, the more they feel inadequate inside. I’m certain it’s an even balance on the scales.

    If you’re being talked over, joked about behind your back or ridiculed in front of others in the workplace, just know they cry themselves to sleep every night over their mothers not loving them enough as a child.

    I like the idea of finding ways to laugh it off. Though I’m not certain why the study should concentrate on which gender is more prolific? Isn’t toxic workplace culture an issue for everyone young and old?

    But as I get older, I’m becoming more fascinated in the ‘act’ we all put on when we step though the workplace door. For instance, I’ll take orders and be treated like a child by my boss at work, and be comfortable with it. But when I’m at home, I’m a Dad with a family to provide for and protect, who wouldn’t take shit from those same people in the street.
    It’s all a funny little act.

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