Saturday, July 30, 2016

Psychopathy not always a disadvantage

Public Release: 3-Jun-2016
Psychopathy need not be a disadvantage
Fearless and stress-resistant -- yet still inconspicuous at work: How it works is shown in a study at the University of Bonn
University of Bonn

Persons with high psychopathy values are egotistic, scheming, and sabotage their colleagues unscrupulously to look better themselves. For employers they are a super-meltdown - but is that really true? A study by the University of Bonn shows that some people with psychopathic traits are seen by their colleagues as quite helpful and cooperative. One of the prerequisites for this, however, is that they possess marked social skills.


not all "psychopaths" are the same. Instead, at least two different facets of personality come together in psychopathy. They can occur together, but do not have to.

"We speak of independent personality dimensions", explains Nora Schütte of the Institute of Psychology of the University of Bonn. "The first is referred to as fearless dominance. People with this character trait want to get their way, have no fear of the consequences of their actions, and can withstand stress very well. We also speak of primary psychopathy. The second dimension is self-centered impulsivity: Persons with high values here lack an inner brake. Their self-control is thus weak, and they therefore do not have any consideration for others. They are referred to as secondary psychopaths".


Participants whose questionnaires indicated a high level of fearless dominance were nevertheless sometimes described by their colleagues as helpful, cooperative, and pleasant associates. "But that was true only when these primary psychopaths also had marked social skills", says Nora Schütte. "Above all that included skills that are generally important at work - such as the gift of making others feel well".

For employees with great self-centered impulsivity, the study showed a completely different picture: Their colleagues consistently described them as destructive in their dealings, not very helpful, and weak in performance - regardless of their social skills. "These persons with high values in secondary psychopathy thus really do have the postulated negative effects upon their work environment", emphasizes Schütte. "And to a much greater degree than when we examine both groups together".


Professor Blickle adds: "Persons with a high degree of fearless dominance can even be selfless heroes in everyday life, such as life-savers, emergency physicians, or firefighters".

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