Personality Traits in the Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada is a 2006 Twentieth Century Fox film, Directed by David Frankel.
This story takes place in downtown New York; it is a story of a girl, a girl named Andrea Sachs.
Andy, as she’s most commonly referred to, is a fresh out of college, armed with a Journalism
degree, and ready to make it big in New York. However, New York doesn’t exactly give her the
job she expected, and she ends up working as an assistant for the monstrous Miranda Priestly.
Miranda Priestly is editor in chief for one of the biggest fashion magazines in New York,
When Andy begins her job, she has no idea how challenging it will be, or how
challenging her boss, Miranda Priestly will be, for that matter. One of the primary ways
Miranda and Andy differ/clash is in their personalities. In this paper, I will analyze the very
different personality traits of Miranda and Andy. The personality traits I will focus on are,
Machiavellianism, communication style, verbal aggressiveness, and the results of verbal
The first personality trait, Machiavellianism, is a term coined from the book, The Prince,
by Niccolo Maciavelli (1469-1527). Machiavelli wrote the book as a handbook for the success of
royalty. His basic piece of advice was to do whatever it took to be successful, the term
Machiavellianism, simply means that “the end justifies the means” (Avtgis, 2010, p. 135). A
person with high “mach” simply means that person will lie, steal, cheat and do whatever else it
takes to get what they want.
Miranda Priestly is an excellent example of someone that is very high on the mach scale.
For example, when she finds out her job is threatened by a younger woman, she blackmails Irv,
the owner of Runway, to keep her in her position as editor in chief, at the expense of her friend,
Nigel, who thought he was getting a promotion as well. When confronted about this by Andy
she says, “You want this life, those choices are necessary” (The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda).
Because Miranda communicates in this Machiavellianism way, and does not hesitate to sacrifice
the ones closest to her, people are always wary and suspicious around her.
While Miranda is very high on the Machiavellianism scale, Andy is relatively low. She
demonstrates this by leaving Runway after Miranda’s behavior toward Nigel. Andy even goes as
far as to give her designer clothes to Emily; Miranda’s other assistant, to make up for taking her
spot as Miranda’s assistant to the Paris fashion show. The contrast between the two shows
character in Andy, and it also shows the success of Miranda. Miranda stayed successful, while
Andy became jobless; maybe there is some truth to the saying, the nice guy always finishes last.
The second personality trait discussed is Communication style; it is defined as, “A trait
reflecting how a person verbally and para-verbally interacts with others” (Avtigs, 2010, p. 143).
People communicate in many different ways, and with many different tones, the textbook lists
ten different ways of interaction. Combinations of these specific interaction styles produce
something called the communicator image. The communicator image shows how well the
person can effectively communicate to others. This is divided into two groups, non-affirming
style, which threatens the other persons self concept or worth, and the affirming style, which
validates the other persons self concept or worth (Avtgis, 2010). Miranda and Andy have
opposite communicator images and they demonstrate different communication interaction
Miranda has a very strong non-affirming communicator image. Her interaction styles
are, dramatic, dominant and contentious. She shows her dramatic style, which is either under
exaggerating something, or over exaggerating it, when she calls Andy up late one evening
needing a flight from Miami to New York. Andy informs her that there is a hurricane and that is
why her flight is cancelled. Miranda answers; “Please, it’s just drizzling!” (Devil Wears Prada,
Miranda) Miranda extremely under exaggerates the severity of the weather because she just
wants to get home; this communication style is very unfair.
Miranda also has a very dominant style of communicating; Andy sums this up best
when she is talking to her boyfriend about Miranda, “She is not happy unless everyone around
her is panicked, nauseous, or suicidal” (Devil Wears Prada, Andy). Miranda’s communication
style is so dominating that it severely negatively influences the people around her.
Finally, Miranda also exhibits a very contentious communication style, which is
communicating in a very confrontational way. She demonstrates this style when she is speaking
to people she works with, “It’s just baffling to me why it is so impossible to put together a
decent run through, you people have had hours and hours to prepare” (Devil Wears Prada,
Miranda). Of course, no one responds to her confrontational tone, because everyone is so
afraid of her; however it is the perfect example of how she is a non-affirming communicator.
Andy, on the other hand, has an affirming communicator image. Her interaction styles
that make up this image are, friendly, relaxed, and attentive. All of these styles put people at
ease, and make them comfortable. The first example of this is friendly interaction style, Andy
shows this when she is attempting to make small talk to Emily, the other assistant, and asks her
if she is doing anything fun this weekend, she asks politely and with a smile, but Emily responds
with a curt “yes” (Devil Wears Prada, Emily and Andy). Obviously people in Miranda’s office are
not used to friendly interaction!
Her second interaction style is relaxed, throughout the whole movie Andy’s style of
communicating is relaxed, she is self confident and this shows in most of her interactions with
Emily, who is always nervously running around, Andy is steady and sure, this causes Emily to
rely and depend on her, especially at the benefit, where Andy bails Emily out because she’s
forgotten information (Devil Wears Prada, Andy).
Her final interaction style that gives her an affirming image is the attentive style. The
best example is when Miranda confides in her about her divorce, Andy listens to her with an
active interest, asking questions, and making eye contact. She says, “I’m so sorry Miranda, is
there anything I can do?” (The Devil Wears Prada, Andy). This shows that Andy is a very caring
person, easy to talk to, and affirming.
While both Andy and Miranda have a different communicator image and interaction
styles, this movie is an excellent example of what these different styles and images are, and
how they impact communication. I think everyone would agree that Andy is a lot more
approachable than Miranda, and a lot less intimidating, however Miranda demands respect and
is very successful at what she does.
The final trait that will be discussed is verbal aggressiveness and the stress that it
causes. As one could probably guess, Miranda is the one possessing the verbal aggressiveness
and Andy is the one that the verbal aggressiveness is causing stress to. Verbal aggressiveness is
defined by the text book as, “A predisposition to attack the self-concept of another person with
the intent to inflict psychological harm or pain” (Avtgis, 2010, p. 137). There are many different
types of verbal aggressiveness, but in this paper we will just discuss teasing and threats. There
are also many types of negative reactions to verbal aggression, but we will simply discuss the
stress that it can cause. This film is an excellent example of verbal aggressiveness and the
results that it can have.
Miranda has a very strong verbal aggression trait; this comes out toward Andy in two
forms, teasing and threats. In the first half of the movie, Miranda is constantly making fun of
the way Andy dresses, making comments such as, “your lumpy blue sweater,” and Andy
“fishing her clothing out of a clearance bin” (The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda). This type of
verbal aggressiveness can cause psychological harm to the individual on the receiving end.
The second trait of verbal aggressiveness Miranda shows against Andy is threats.
Threats can be very damaging and cause much stress. An excellent example of this is when
Andy does something wrong, to punish her Miranda asks for Andy to accomplish an outrageous
task, and if she fails to do so, “Just don’t bother coming back” (The Devil Wears Prada,
Miranda). Instead of firing her immediately, Miranda wishes to inflict worry and stress on Andy,
just to pay her back, this is not effective communication!
Verbal aggressiveness is a trait that goes hand in hand with stress reaction. Andy
naturally feels stress when she is being threatened and teased constantly. Andy displays this
stress in frequent situations, running down the street arms full of bags for Miranda, or walking
(more like running) her dog, and carrying trays of steaming Starbucks. She also displays stress
caused by verbal aggressiveness in her personal life, she is always telling her boyfriend she is
burnt out, tired, and fed up with Miranda, who gives her a constant headache (The Devil Wears
Prada, Andy). This is a perfect example of just how much verbal aggressiveness can negatively
I really enjoyed watching this movie, it was an excellent example of personality traits, I had a
hard time narrowing down the ones I wanted to write about. This film has demonstrated almost
perfectly the different personality traits in an organization and how these traits are directly
related to how people communicate with each other. I now have a deeper understanding of
Machiavellianism, communication style, verbal aggressiveness and the results of that verbal
aggressiveness, and how those specific personality traits work in an organization.
While Miranda may be viewed as cruel, selfish and mean, she was truly successful and
wonderful at what she did. Personality traits that sometimes are viewed negatively can be the
best thing for a competitive company. Andy was a sweet and good-natured girl, at the end of
the movie she gets a job interview at the New Yorker to be a journalist; this job would definitely
better fit her personality traits and her strengths. This just goes to show that personality traits
are directly related to specific jobs and organizations.
Personality Traits in the Devil Wears Prada