Bosses Are 4 Times More Likely To Be Psychopaths
If you think your boss is a nutcase, you may be onto something, a new study suggests.
According to the findings, nearly 4 percent of bosses fit the profile of a psychopath, compared with 1 percent in the general population.
Babiak's research, which examines how many psychopaths had infiltrated major companies, will be aired next week in a British television documentary.
In the film, Babiak tells the show's producers: "Psychopaths really aren't the kind of person you think they are. In fact, you could be living with or married to one for 20 years or more and not know that person is a psychopath," the Daily Mail reports.
The psychologist goes on to say that individuals identified in his research could be termed "successful psychopaths," who are capable of mimicking the personality traits that people find most pleasing in their leaders.
"Their natural tendency is to be charming," Babiak says in the film. "Take that charm and couch it in the right business language and it sounds like charismatic leadership."
Babiak and University of British Columbia researcher Bob Hare developed an extensive questionnaire to determine how many bosses were psychopaths, the Daily Mail reports.
The concept of the "successful psychopath" is well-known, notes The Village Voice. In a blog item, the New York City weekly cites an article published four years ago by Scientific American which reported: "Some investigators have even speculated that 'successful psychopaths' -- those who attain prominent positions in society -- may be overrepresented in certain occupations, such as politics, business and entertainment."
Ruthless corporate behavior has been a popular theme in Hollywood films in recent decades. Gordon Gekko, the character portrayed by Michael Douglas in the 1987 movie "Wall Street," is perhaps the best known portrayal of corporate ruthlessness.
More recently, Kevin Spacey's character in the 2011 movie, "Horrible Bosses" (see video clip below), showcases the kind of callousness and disregard for others that Babiak's research hints at.
(Note: The video contains language that some viewers may find offensive)
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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