It’s increasingly possible that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is a con artist.
There are ways to find out. In February, Business Insider’s video team asked psychology and science writer Maria Konnikova, author of a book about con artists, “The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time,” what the science says about whether or not Trump really is a con artist.
Both con artists and politicians tend to score highly on tests designed to identify the so-called “dark triad” of personality traits. Dark personalities are associated with:
Machiavellianism, or being manipulative. This is something Trump has been accused of time and time again, for knowing exactly what will get him the most attention. Narcissism, or loving yourself too much. Trump is known for complimenting himself, calling himself successful, smart, among other glowing adjectives. Psychopathy, or lacking empathy. Trump showed that yesterday in his response to the Orlando massacre, taking congratulations for saying this kind of event would happen.
But really, it all comes down to one factor that separates the con from the politician: intent.
“Con artists are intentionally deceiving you,” Konnikova said. They manipulate people simply for their own benefit. “Many politicians don’t do that. They use the same tactics, but they genuinely believe in what they’re doing. They’re trying to make the world a better place, they think they will make the world a better place.”
The problem is, we don’t know if he’s saying what he’s saying intentionally to deceive the public, or if he really does believe the things he says. Though it’s becoming increasingly hard to believe that does.
Watch the full video with Maria Konnikova here:
Tanya Lewis contributed to an earlier version of this article.