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What kind of people believe "the end justifies the means"? - New study profiles people who rationalize the merits of negative actions
Sunday, October 3, 2021

A recent study by indicates that people who adopt the conviction that the end justifies the means are not as kind or as morally upright as they might claim to be.

MONTREAL, Sept. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Russian revolutionary Sergey Nechayev is credited with popularizing the phrase "the end justifies the means," although Machiavelli did allude to this notion in the Prince. At the root of this maxim is the belief that if an objective is important and moral - at least in the eyes of the person committing the act - then using any tactics to achieve it, even if these methods themselves are immoral, is acceptable. Does this mean that people who adopt this attitude are doing so for the greater good? This was the question that the research team at PsychTests attempted to answer.

Analyzing data collected from 12,259 people who took the Emotional Intelligence Test, PsychTests' researchers examined the personality profile of people who advocate the belief that the end justifies the means (identified below as "Justifiers").
Here's what the study revealed:

> "Never help anyone succeed unless it benefits you in some way" (endorsed by 19% of Justifiers vs. 2% of Non-justifiers).
> "Never reveal your true self or others will exploit you" (endorsed by 37% of Justifiers vs. 10% of Non-justifiers).
> "Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception" (endorsed by 43% of Justifiers vs. 12% of Non-justifiers).
> "Never show weakness" (endorsed by 57% of Justifiers vs. 20% of Non-justifiers).
> "Cheating or lying is only wrong if you get caught" (endorsed by 21% of Justifiers vs. 2% of Non-justifiers).
> "Using insincere flattery is justifiable" (endorsed by 35% of Justifiers vs. 15% of Non-justifiers).
> "In order to get ahead you have to 'step on a few toes'" (endorsed by 40% of Justifiers vs. 8% of Non-justifiers).
> "Some acts of dishonesty can be justified" (endorsed by 44% of Justifiers vs. 19% of Non-justifiers).
> "If an ignorant or naïve person is taken advantage of, it's their own fault" (endorsed by 34% of Justifiers vs. 5% of Non-justifiers).
> "If given the chance, most people will backstab you in order to get what they want" (endorsed by 51% of Justifiers vs. 15% of Non-justifiers).
> "People who go out of their way to be nice usually want something in return" (endorsed by 36% of Justifiers vs. 11% of Non-justifiers).
> "Most non-profit organizations use their donations dishonestly" (endorsed by 28% of Justifiers vs. 9% of Non-justifiers).

> Ask someone out on a date at a funeral (approved by 11% of Justifiers vs. 2% of Non-justifiers).
> Approach a stranger who is obese and offer suggestions on how to lose weight (approved by 10% of Justifiers vs. 2% of Non-justifiers).
> Tell a homeless person to get a job (approved by 16% of Justifiers vs. 4% of Non-justifiers).
> Encourage a depressed person to "toughen up" (approved by 30% of Justifiers vs. 7% of Non-justifiers).

> 47% of justifiers are pessimists (compared to 27% of Non-justifiers).
> 30% are take-charge types who will nominate themselves as the leader in a group (compared to 14% of Non-justifiers).
> 34% do good deeds for recognition and praise (compared to 13% of Non-justifiers).
> 50% distance themselves from or suppress negative emotions (compared to 34% of Non-justifiers).
> 30% are uneasy showing affection or expressing appreciation (compared to 17% of Non-justifiers).
> 55% won't allow themselves to cry under any circumstances (compared to 34% of Non-justifiers).

"Sometimes, you have to be tough in order to achieve a desired outcome," explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. "When you need to end a relationship with a toxic partner, bring a harsh truth to light, or ground your child for engaging in a harmful behavior, you are taking a tough route in order to achieve a better outcome. In fact, what we have clearly seen in this study is that people who try to justify certain actions are often motivated by good intentions: both the Justifiers and Non-justifiers scored fairly well on empathy - 71 vs. 79 respectively. So when, for example, your mom pokes fun at your weight in order to inspire you to adopt a healthier lifestyle, she likely really believes she has your best interests in mind. That's what motivates a lot of Justifiers. However, it's easy to get carried away and become self-righteous. Everyone has different values, priorities and perspectives, and even if we feel strongly about the way we live our life, we need to allow others to do the same. We cannot truly control anybody's views or behavior, no matter how wrong or destructive their ways are... we can only make sure we live according to our own standards, take responsibility for the things we say and do, and be there for others if they ask for our help. No matter how noble we feel the goal is, the end does not justify the means."

Want to assess your EQ? Check out the Emotional Intelligence Test by visiting:

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile's extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook:

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see

Media Contact

Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D, PsychTests AIM Inc., 5147453189,


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