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Oxford research shows why psychopaths get ahead in business

first_imgResearch by an Oxford psychologist, indicates that being a psychopath is often beneficial in high-powered careers such as neurosurgery, the armed forces, and business.In their new book The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success, Oxford psychology professor Kevin Dutton and co-author Andy McNab demonstrate that psychopathic characteristics often found in high-level criminals, such as ruthlessness, a lack of emotional empathy and an ability to act on impulse in stressful situations, are actually identical to professional personalities in high-pressure jobs.Dutton gives an example of an interview he had with a neurosurgeon who described surgery as “a blood sport”. He explained, “If things go wrong in an operating theatre, you don’t want someone to start freaking out and panicking, you want someone to absolutely focus on the job in hand and not get fazed out, and also that kind of dispassionate distance that psychopaths have, that cold empathy that they display.”Flo Harris, a second-year experimental psychologist, stressed, “It is important to remember that it is a personality disorder and people present on a spectrum. The word ‘psychopath’ doesn’t tell you a lot about what those people might actually be like.”Dutton defined a psychopath as having, “a distinct cluster of personality traits which include ruthlessness, fearlessness, charm, charisma focus and a lack of conscience”. These traits are all found in the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a psychological assessment used to distinguish psychopaths scored on a scale of 0-40 with 30 and above constituting psychopathy.In his research, Dutton distinguishes between dysfunctional psychopaths and those that can function within society. He stresses the difference between dysfunctional psychopaths, who are naturally violent, asocial, or unintelligent, and functional psychopaths, who are able to apply themselves to careers and relationships without being a danger to themselves or others. The latter category, Dutton suggests, could succeed in some of the most high-powered, well-paid positions in society.last_img read more