Do you have many psychopaths in your profession?

psychopathHave you ever thought your boss was a bit of a psycho?  It turns out your judgement may not have been massively wide of the mark.  Psychologist Kevin Dutton has recently conducted his Great British Psychopath Survey to unearth the 10 professions most (and least) likely to be home to a psycho.

He found that sat there right at the top of the tree was the CEO, followed closely by lawyers and media professionals.  Here is the top 10.

  1. CEO
  2. Lawyer
  3. Media (TV/Radio)
  4. Salesperson
  5. Surgeon
  6. Journalist
  7. Police Officer
  8. Clergyperson
  9. Chef
  10. Civil Servant

It is perhaps not surprising that executives score so highly.  A study in 2010 looked at meanness at work and found that the higher the income gap between those at the top and those at the bottom of the organisation, the meaner it was.

A second study from the same year also found that managers score highly for psychopathic tendencies.  Indeed, they went as far as to suggest that being a bit psycho was required to be a good manager.

The authors conclude that “the very skills that make the psychopath so unpleasant (and sometimes abusive) in society can facilitate a career in business even in the face of negative performance ratings.”

Knowing where the line is

An interesting study by the American Psychological Association looked at the differences between successful and unsuccessful psychopaths.  Providing some rare, concrete support for the ‘successful psychopath’ concept, the individuals described by the survey respondents were the same as prototypical psychopaths in all regards except they lacked the irresponsibility, impulsivity and negligence and instead scored highly on competence, order, achievement striving and self-discipline.

The least psycho professions

Anyway, back to the original survey, I’m sure you’re dying to know which professions had the least psychos in?  Here is the top 10:

  1. Care Aide
  2. Nurse
  3. Therapist
  4. Craftsperson
  5. Beautician/Stylist
  6. Charity Worker
  7. Teacher
  8. Creative Artist
  9. Doctor
  10. Accountant

So how do you spot a psycho in your midst?  Here are some of the traits of psychopaths:

  • Self-confident
  • Cold-hearted
  • Manipulative
  • Fearless
  • Charming
  • Cool under pressure
  • Egocentric
  • Carefree

With those traits in mind, it’s perhaps not that surprising that some professions actually find them useful.



2 thoughts on “Do you have many psychopaths in your profession?

  1. Not at all surprised that there is a high number of psychopathic CEOs. Looking at those traits and it's almost like a checklist of the kind of things we seem to expect and admire in our 'leaders'.

  2. Makes you wonder if we value those kind of attributes from our leaders, or whether leaders need those attributes to climb the greasy pole doesn't it?

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