Watch out for your successful work colleagues because they are probably psychopaths hiding in plain sight.
Psychopaths, narcissists and other manipulative personalities are common in the workplace, according to new research due for publication in April by the Journal of Research into Personality.
Their worst traits are manipulation and callousness.
Psychopaths are responsible for much of bullying in the workplace, hypercriticism of others and deceitfulness, argue the report authors.
They also add to more traits into the mix – spitefulness and aggression.
Ultimate form of power
The study conclusion was reached after screening more than 3,000 workers with a quiz, asking their response to statements like “I’m not afraid to step on others to get what I want.”, “I find it easy to manipulate people” or “If I ruled the world it would be a much better place.”
Researchers decided being callous but not manipulative was harmless, as was being manipulative without being callous – but being both at the same time was not a good outcome as psychopaths could force others into harmful situations.
“The ultimate form of power and control is to destroy people, and that’s the motivation for their behaviours, and that’s why it’ll never change,” says Dr John Clarke, author of Working with Monsters.
“The core driver is not money, it’s not promotion. It’s increased power over a greater number of people so they can eventually have more access to victims. The money is simply a bonus.”
Are you a psychopath?
A separate study, published by the Institute of Management, revealed psychopaths were ‘disproportionately’ represented in senior management roles and were more likely to be promoted.
The researchers for this report agreed managers do not have to be psychopaths or other malevolent personalities to gain promotion – but it helps.
So where do you rank as a psychopath?
Do you enjoy manipulating office politics without showing remorse when someone’s job prospects are damaged?
A psychological test has been designed to identify personal ties with psychopathic traits – the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.
The test is really a bit of fun and the results need expert analysis to determine if someone really is a psychopath. Don’t forget only 1% of the population would meet the clinical criteria for psychopathy.