Seven Keys for Recognizing Cold and Calculating People

Cold, calculating men and women are smart, methodical, and adept at deception. Their objective is to instrumentalize people. How do they do it?
Seven Keys for Recognizing Cold and Calculating People

Last update: 07 October, 2021

You can find cold and calculating people in any social setting. They always have a very clear purpose. That’s to obtain benefits, goals, achievements, and positions of power. In fact, they view other people as simple variables in this particular equation. Furthermore, they don’t hesitate to use deception and manipulation strategies, often leaving many victims in their wake.

This type of personality profile tends to be extremely common in work environments. However, there are also many who end up in emotional relationships with them. They’re cold people, with zero emotional attachments. As a matter of fact, they often replicate the Machiavellian behavior patternYou need to know how to identify these men and women in your environment. They’re like hungry sharks waiting for someone to make a mistake so they can move in for the kill.

Calculating and emotionally cold people possess a unique —and dangerous virtue— they’re extremely intelligent, but their genius is oriented towards manipulation, selfishness, and the instrumentalization of others.

Woman glaring at a female colleague representing cold people and calculators

Cold and Calculating People

Are cold and calculating people born or made? This is the first question you might ask yourself when you meet someone of this type. In fact, research, such as that conducted by the University of Illinois suggests that even in childhood there are children who show cognitive egocentricity. In other words, they only see things from their perspective. If this factor isn’t addressed or they’re not re-educated, it leads to emotional coldness.

Environmental and educational factors have a great impact. Indeed, this emotional coldness can be caused by growing up in a scenario devoid of attachment and an absence of education based on empathy, respect, and proper emotional management. Later, in adolescence, Machiavellian behavior appears. In other words, the appearance of a  calculating, conniving, and often cynical mind.

Let’s learn a bit more about this type of personality.

1. Intelligence oriented to selfishness and self-benefit

Cold, calculating people tend to have high IQs. However, that brilliant mind doesn’t go hand in hand with kindness or in seeking the welfare of others. As a matter of fact, their behavior is purely instrumental. Whatever they do, either directly or indirectly, is in the pursuit of personal gain.

Furthermore, they’re extremely skilled personalities when it comes to planning long-term goals. In fact, the University of Western Ohio conducted research that indicated that calculating people such as the Machiavellians score high in fluid intelligence.

What does this mean in reality? Basically, the following:

  • They’re not skilled when it comes to reasoning on abstract ideas.
  • They possess good logical reasoning.
  • They know how to draw inferences and deductions. In addition, they’re observant and extremely analytical.

2. The dark triad and cold and calculating people

Emotional coldness, added to Machiavellianism, leads us to integrate this personality into what we know as the dark triad. It was in 2002, when psychologists Delroy Paulhus and Kevin Williams, from the University of British Columbia, defined this term.

Their goal was to understand a little better those personalities with psychopathic traits. They discovered that, in the case of cold and calculating people, along with their elements of emotional coldness and Machiavellianism, they stand out for their instrumentalization of others.

The foundations for this justification are as follows:

  • They’re opportunistic and calculating figures. In fact, they know how to take advantage of practically any situation to obtain an advantage.
  • While psychopaths tend to be more impulsive and take risks when they want to achieve something, the Machiavellian is colder and more cautious. They can wait months or years to achieve what they want.
  • They’re prudent and stand out for their self-control and their ability to plan and adapt to changes.

3. They’re distant, but when they want something they can pretend

In general, their way of relating is always cold. They keep their distance and aren’t especially affectionate or social. However, when they have a plan in mind, their Machiavellian profile allows them to display wonderful people skills. However, for them, always or nearly always, the end justifies the means.

4. Distrust and suspicion

Cold and calculating people don’t place their trust in anyone. What’s more, they’re suspicious of everything around them and are always alert. Indeed, they take it for granted that others are like them and at the very least they’ll betray them for a greater goal.

Boy thinking about cold people and calculators

5. Emotional detachment and instrumental empathy

It’s common for this personality profile to not have had good emotional support in their childhood. This has made them grow up without needing anything from anyone. In fact, they don’t know or don’t want to strengthen ties with other people, and if they do it’s solely for their own interests. Affective detachment is a constant in their lives and they rarely maintain partners and friends.

Another factor that defines them is instrumental empathy. This means that they emotionally connect with others in order to manipulate them. In fact, they want to make them believe that they feel the same so they can blackmail them and have control over them.

6. Cold, calculating people are methodical and need fixed routines

These men and women need a fixed routine. Indeed, they’re methodical people and tend to do the same things every day. They take care of their schedules and their habits. They don’t like the unexpected and they’ll rarely break from their routine for anyone.

7. They’re haughty and perceive themselves as better than the rest

We noted earlier that cold, calculating people fit the profile of the dark triad. Although it’s true that they score more significantly in the Machiavellian factor, they also present some traits of psychopathy and narcissism.

As for the narcissistic component, it should be noted that it manifests itself in a very concrete way: these people are extremely haughty. They perceive themselves as having better skills than most. However, this isn’t something they express openly. They’re far more discreet. Nevertheless, this attitude can often be sensed in the way they speak to others, and the subtle contempt they often show for some colleagues or even their own partners.

In essence, we’re dealing with a harmful and dangerous pattern of personality and behavior. Their callousness, patience, and ability to manipulate people are traps we all undoubtedly fall into at some point in our lives.

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The Dark Triad: Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy
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The Dark Triad: Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy

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