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Since Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince was published in 1532, it has shaped our understanding of how political power is won—namely through cunning and coercion. The treatise has been so influential that Machiavelli’s name has become synonymous with cut-throat modern politics—both in the real world (Peter Mandelson) and the fictional (Frank Underwood in House of Cards). But what if there were another way to gain power and influence people?

Dacher Keltner is an expert in the evolutionary origins of human emotions and a professor of psychology at Berkeley in California. The…

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