Psychopaths At Work? CEOs And Lawyers Are Jobs That Attract Most Psychos, Author's Study Shows

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Is the guy in the cubicle next to you a psychopath? What about your boss? The likelihood that you can answer yes to that question depends on your job. According to a study by researcher Kevin Dutton, author of the book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, some professions are more prone to attract psychopaths than others.

First of all, what is a psychopath? Most of us probably associate the term with, say, Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th — or in real life, serial killers like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. But those individuals are only the most extreme examples of psychopaths inaction. Psychopaths can be anyone, anywhere.

The science of psychology has trouble agreeing on a single definition of what makes a person a psychopath. But there are a few often-used criteria that can be tested and measured. One of the most common is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, created by Canadian psychologist Robert D. Hare.

The Hare checklist consists of 20 items on which a researcher evaluates and rates a subject, givig a score of 0-3 for each. The higher the score, the more the subject leans toward the psychopathic end of the spectrum.
Some of the criteria are: pathological lying, lack of guilt feelings, lack of empathy with other people, a grandiose sense of self worth and promiscuous sexual behavior.

In Dutton’s research, he found that the profession of corporate CEO is most likely to attract people with psychopathic traits. “Lawyer” came in at #2 and the TV and radio professions right after that. Journalists came in at #6, just before “police officer” and after “surgeon.”

Other jobs in the top 10 psychopath-infested professions are salesperson, clergy, civil servant and, of all things, chef.

On the other hand, Dutton also determined the professions most likely to be psychopath-free. As could be imagined, most of those are jobs that require workers to care for other people. Nurse, therapist, doctor (except for surgeons, apparently), teacher and creative artist all make the least-psychopathic list.

As does “accountant,” interestingly enough.

SOURCES: The Week, Forbes, Wikipedia