The Benefits of Psychopathy for Business and Capitalism

Updated on June 1, 2020
Angel Harper profile image

Angel is currently a first year student at university studying Psychology.

Psychopaths are drawn to business because of the "opportunity to make a lot of money, to gain status and power" (Hare & Babiak 2006). They are predominantly found in positions of high authority such as CEOs and executives; and they aid the capitalist venture for finance and consumption, even if they must exploit the proletariat to achieve this. Cut-throat psychopaths are a profitable tool for capitalists to obtain financial gain as their ability to manipulate and their entrepreneurial skills are imperative for success.

Source

Characteristics such as manipulativeness can be particularly useful for salesmen who can easily persuade customers to buy their products; similarly, lawyers may benefit from a lack of empathy when questioning (and potentially psychologically harming) witnesses in court. Dutton (2012) interviewed a lawyer who said that they "have absolutely no problem at all reducing an alleged rape victim to tears on the stands". Although the interviewee is not a confirmed psychopath, having this lack of empathy helps them to successfully fulfill the roles expected of them for their career. These are all characteristics that psychopaths are apparently born with. This makes them naturals in certain fields of work. Hare and Babiak support this; they explain that "psychopaths do naturally what some politicians, salesman, and promoters have to work hard to achieve: impress listeners with how they say something".

Hare and Babiak developed a questionnaire called the Business Scan (2006), it consists of four topics: personal style, emotional style, organisational effectiveness and social responsibility. This model was constructed based on corporate settings rather than criminal (unlike the PCL-R and the PCL:SV) so provides more insightful knowledge into the white-collar psychopaths that aren't found behind bars. The table below demonstrates the fine line between leadership skills and psychopathic traits:

Leadership Trait
Psychopathic Trait
Charismatic
Superficial charm
Self confidece
Grandiosity
Ability to influence
Manipulation
Persuasive
Con artistry
Visionary thinking
Fabrication of intricate stories
Ability to take risks
Impulsivity
Action orientated
Thrill seeking
Ability to make hard decisions
Emotional poverty
Table 1. Hare and Babiak (2006) The Business Scan: leadership and psychopathic trait equivalents.

This table shows how similar psychopathic and leadership traits are, and if a psychopath is born with these characteristics, does this mean they are natural born CEOs? Of course, there is a difference between 'ability to take risks' and 'impulsivity', with the first being regarded as entrepreneurial whereas the second, irresponsible. Yet if a psychopath's score for impulsivity is not too high, nor too low but at an optimum level (like in Ray's diagram of life success- see this article) perhaps they are perfect for fulfilling a leadership role within a corporate setting.

Source

The Great British Psychopath Survey (as cited in The Wisdom of Psychopaths 2012) questioned volunteers on their psychopathy levels and their employment details. The results showed that those who scored higher on the psychopathy scale tended to go into certain careers more than others (see table 2). Careers that have high levels of psychopathy include journalists and salespeople whereas low scorers tended to be care workers or charity workers.

High Psychopathy Levels
Low Psychopathy Levels
1.CEO
1.Care worker
2.Lawyer
2.Nurse
3.Media
3.Therapist
4.Salesperson
4.Craftperson
5.Surgeon
5.Stylist
6.Journalist
6.Charity worker
7.Police officer
7. Teacher
8.Cleric
8.Creative artist
9.Chef
9.Doctor
10.Civil servant
10.Accountant
Table 2. Levenson's Most and Least Psychopathic Careers (1995), as cited in The Wisdom of Psychopaths (2012)

This research further implies that psychopathic characteristics allow for natural-born salespeople and CEOs. Many of these jobs require the persuasive charm that is a skill psychopaths have from birth which allows them to thrive in certain corporate settings.

Despite this, there can be some damaging symptoms of a psychopathic presence in the workplace. For instance, other workers in an office would have to interact with the psychopath, which could be an unpleasant experience when dealing with manipulation and pathological lying.

Hare and Babiak (2006) estimate that roughly 1% of the human population are psychopaths yet 3.5% of executives fit the psychopathy profile. This suggests that although there are very few of them, many are drawn to positions of power within a corporate setting. Although this may be damaging to some groups of people, it can also be beneficial for business and for capitalism whose aim is to earn as much money as possible, which may be an easier goal when working with someone who has innate entrepreneurial skills.

References

Babiak, P. , Hare, R. (2007). Snakes in suits: when psychopaths go to work. Published New York, Regan Books.

Dutton, K.. (2012). The wisdom of psychopaths: lessons in life from Saints, spies and serial killers. Published London, William Heinemann.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Angel Harper

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)