The Psychopathic Boss In Today’s World


By: Jared Lee

One odd common theme that has been popping up in the business world is that people who are high up in corporations and are successful are likely to have psychopathic traits and tendencies. These include trying to show their power over other co-workers, making impulsive decisions without really thinking, and acting without empathy or emotion. Is this surprising?

Try and picture what you think the top CEO’s in the big companies act like. Are they nice and welcoming people who try and make everyone comfortable or are they ruthless and cold and put the company and profits first at all cost? It would be nice if it was the first but I picture the latter. It turns out however that studies that have been conducted have not given clear answers or results and the debate is still rumbling on whether or not there is any correlation between having psychopathic traits and being high up in a company.

Recently there have been studies by The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL, and Iowa State University in Ames, IA, trying to see whether there really is any correlation between the two. The goal of the studies was to see if having psychopathic traits help people become leaders and whether or not they are successful or effective leaders. To do this study, the scientists involved looked at 92 existing data sets of corporate leaders and found weak correlations but still correlations that pointed to the fact that people with psychopathic tendencies were likely to be in positions of leadership and power at a company, but their methods may not be too effective.

As stated by the study author Dr. Peter Harms, “Overall, although there is no positive or negative relation to a company’s bottom line when psychopathic tendencies are present in organizational leaders, their subordinates will still hate them.” This finding is not surprising, as most people will not like to have a psychopath as a boss. What was interesting about the studies that came out was how having these psychopathic traits affected men and women differently.

It turns out people look at women who shows these traits more negatively as opposed to men who exhibit the same traits. Men are looked at as being confident and effective when these traits are displayed while women are not looked at as kindly. The authors of the study sum it up when they say “This is likely because women displaying psychopathic behaviors are viewed as violating not only general gender norms , but also those associated with female leaders.”

According to the study’s findings there seems to be a double standard for women, as if they try and emulate successful leaders or people in power that are men, it will have a negative effect on the way they are looked at and are perceived as a leader. Hopefully one day this double standard will be gone and people won’t be judged differently due to their gender as to give an even playing field to everyone.