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  1. #1
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Default Study shows psychopathy can be hidden if the individual has high intelligence

    ground-breaking research shows that there could be increased numbers of psychopaths in senior managerial positions and high levels of business

    This is a very interesting study (which has been published in a scientific journal), and validates something I have felt for a long, long time: that it's indeed very possible for individuals to mask certain traits and personality deficits if they understand themselves enough and know what to show and not show.

    Here are the important excerpts from the article:

    She points out that, despite the media’s invariably lurid use of the term, there are various categories of psychopath and they are not all prone to physical violence.“The ones who are at the top of businesses are often charming and intelligent, but with emotional deficits, as opposed to psychopaths who are quite erratic and tend to commit gruesome crimes and are often caught and imprisoned.”
    The measures were taken by first assessing IQ of the participants, then assessing psychopathy in the participants via another test. Then, measuring galvanic skin response to images depicting emotional scenes.

    Carolyn found that the GSR responses among her participants were much as she would have predicted – except for the fact that it was only those with lower levels of intelligence who displayed the expected levels of excitement.
    The conclusion is that those with higher IQs had sufficient intelligence to fake their emotional response, making it more difficult to detect their condition. This is the discovery that means Carolyn has made an original contribution to research in the field.
    Finally, it's added at the potential implications this can have throughout the world:

    She has contemplated the implications and whether or not it is important to develop new procedures to screen out psychopathic people who are in line for top business posts.
    This is an interesting point to consider. However, one that I think might be too far to extend at this point and time. I mean, they used a 50 person sample size of students for the study. I think they're just using the headline of "CEO hate" which is extremely popular in the post 2008 economy crash world to garner attention (which is pretty dishonest and distasteful IMO). Still, the study seems to be statistically sound, this is the first major study of such a correlation, and it's going to have to be repeated and changed in some manners to validate it further. The title likely also come from the fact that it feels rather confirming to what a lot of people (such as myself) suspect. Everyone seems to know "that one person" who really does not belong in business, politics, etc. for the very reasons that they are unethical, or show signs of psychopathy in this regard.

    It's also interesting to consider if other types of personality disorders, mental disorders, or related neurosis that can be hidden or masked (they or may not be dependent upon intelligence). This is actually rather important if this ends up being true, because it will show a very strong need to modify how disorders are screened. Ultimately, I feel the study is most important for the questions that it begs.

    Discuss.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    i thought 98% of people who in big business/politics were that. and so those do belong but it's actually the honest people who don't. the world is fucked up, but people pretend that honesty and integrity get you places. it doesn't being hot (if you're a female) being funny (if you're male or female) being manipulative, and being smart is what gets you places
    In no likes experiment.

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  3. #3
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    Yawn. Academic study confirms that a class of people you don't like have a character flaw. Or study confirms biases of those conducting the study.

  4. #4
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Yawn. Academic study confirms that a class of people you don't like have a character flaw. Or study confirms biases of those conducting the study.
    I don't dislike the class and I don't doubt the findings based on my own experience.

  5. #5
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Yawn. Academic study confirms that a class of people you don't like have a character flaw. Or study confirms biases of those conducting the study.
    congrats on making assumptions. everyone i know who is more succesful than me in any aspect of life lies and manipulates more than me, are they all sociopaths? no do i hate all of them? not really. so it would stand to reason someone successful in a public way would have more sociopathic traits. you can have the traits without being a sociopath. and studies are proven wrong all the time, this one might be. so many ground breaking studies have been proven wrong cuz others try to replicate them and they get different results.
    In no likes experiment.

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by prplchknz View Post
    congrats on making assumptions. everyone i know who is more succesful than me in any aspect of life lies and manipulates more than me, are they all sociopaths? no do i hate all of them? not really. so it would stand to reason someone successful in a public way would have more sociopathic traits. you can have the traits without being a sociopath. and studies are proven wrong all the time, this one might be. so many ground breaking studies have been proven wrong cuz others try to replicate them and they get different results.
    What's the point of the study though? If its valid to study sociopathic traits inherent in those at the higher levels of business, would it also be valid to study say the IQ range of NFL players, how cowardly teachers are, or how flaky artists are?

    Certain kinds of people are drawn to different professions. In each profession, the type of people who are drawn to it are going to have traits that the public perceives as positive and some perceived as negative (just like anyone). How does the study benefit society? Because it seems to me that studies like this exist solely to give ammunition to those who regard the class of people being studied unfavorably.

    Some of the traits perceived as negative by the public certainly allow these business leaders to be good at what they do.

    I don't see any valid public policy objective arising from the conclusions in the study. To suggest that one would screen business leaders based on their personality is absolutely ludicrous.

    It's like studying the IQ variance between Ashkenazi Jews vs. other types of people. Yes there might be a statistically significant difference, but what good can society put that information to?

    These kind of studies are certainly interesting to psychologists, academics and those with the esoteric and specialized knowledge to understand the results in a nuanced way, but then publishing the result just gives those in the public an excuse to use the studies to confirm their preconceived notions.

    It is for that reason that I think studies like this, no matter who is made to look bad by the result, are pretty much bullshit.

  7. #7
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    @Jarlaxle showed me this, it's relevant

    In no likes experiment.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    Sorry but i think the emotional deficit is at the side who doesent recognize a psychopath when in close relation with the person.. Not saying that they are necessarily dumb, but naive and poor judges of character at least.
    "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Opal's Avatar
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    Burn the witch!


  10. #10
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    Response to the OP:

    As others have suggested, there's nothing new to the idea that psychopaths exist in the workplace. As long as they don't commit any actual crime or gross malfeasance, there's no reason to identify them and fire them. To put it another way: Lots of borderline psychopaths don't feel any empathy or ethics and would have no problem breaking the law; but intellectually they recognize the severe penalties for malfeasance and get an ego boost from the high positions they achieve, so they obey the law in order to maintain their position in the company and the community.

    Speaking more broadly: Sanity isn't a requirement in the workplace. What about the OCD surgeon who washes his hands 50 times a day? The histrionic secretary? The depressive salesman? The avoidant accountant? The paranoid IT worker? The neurotic manager? As long as these problems don't result in malfeasance or negatively affect job performance, there's no reason to penalize these people. Hell, you can be the biggest racist, misogynist, or misandrist in the world, as long as you keep it to yourself in the workplace. Don't break the rules, and there's no cause for anyone to fire you.

    The short version: It's perfectly okay to be as nutty or hateful as you want to be, as long as you keep it to yourself and it doesn't impact your work performance.

    Where these issues *do* commonly impact the workplace is the fact that psychopathic bosses and neurotic coworkers are often difficult to work with. They're not the nicest of people; they tend to be demanding or bitter or sour or passive-aggressive or whatever, and they leave a string of burnt-out employees and coworkers behind them. But again, as long as no rules are broken, then merely being bitter or sour or demanding isn't by itself considered malfeasance. At worst, such a boss or coworker gets a reputation for being difficult to work with, and the problem increasingly shows up in their performance evaluations and cuts them off from further promotions.

    As for workers stuck dealing with bad (crazy) bosses and coworkers: If there's no actual criminal activity or malfeasance that you can report, then there's no specific remedy for your problem. You're just encouraged to recognize the problem and its sources and take steps to insulate yourself from such people as needed, up to and including leaving your position and finding another one elsewhere.

    Business journals run frequent articles and responses in advice columns on how to deal with bad (crazy) bosses and coworkers. Here's an example of one old article from the Wall Street Journal talking about how to recognize bosses with personality traits belonging to the so-called "Dark Triad" (manipulativeness, narcissism, and anti-social personalities). Link: What Corporate Climbers Can Teach Us - WSJ

    Anyway, to sum up:

    The corporate world is well aware of this problem and has its own remedies and rules and networks for handling these things (up to the point where there is actual malfeasance or criminal activity, at which point legal sanctions and law enforcement issues apply). If you have a bad boss or a bad coworker, go to HR and inquire about remedies or even a lateral move to another department.

    Employees in a small-business environment are more exposed to the problem: They don't have an HR department they can go to, and they can't lateral to other departments. Often, they can only quit and go elsewhere.

    And people who are in personal relationships with narcissists or psychopaths or whatever are the most exposed: Here you get into studies of abuse and co-dependent relationships. Basically the rule here is caveat emptor: Practice good personal boundaries, or face a long, difficult learning curve.

    In any case, the article cited in the OP would only apply to bad (psychopathic) bosses in the *corporate* environment; and as I already said above, the corporate world is already well aware of the problem and offers some resources for dealing with it. Other than that, there's not too much that one can do about the problem. You can't fire people simply for being nuts; there has to be actual malfeasance or at least work performance so poor that such people are kept out of positions of power in the first place.

    YMMV

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