Researchers presenting to the Australian Psychological Society have found that a higher-than-expected number of corporate executives exhibit psychopathic traits.
Forensic psychologist Nathan Brooks uses the term 'successful psychopath' in this instance, referring to bosses who show insincerity, lack empathy or remorse and who may be egocentric, charming and superficial in many cases.
According to Brooks a greater number of successful psychopaths have emerged in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, prompting new studies which could have major implications for the business sector.
He believes psychopathy screening should become a larger part in the modern hiring process.
"Too often companies look at skills first and then secondly consider personality features," says Brooks.
"Really it needs to be firstly about the candidate's character and then, if they pass the character test, consider whether they have the right skills."
One particular study within Brooks' PhD research revealed that one in five (21 per cent) of corporate professionals showed clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits; results that are comparable to prison statistics.
Alongside Dr Katarine Fritzon of Bond University and Dr Simon Croom of the University of San Diego, Brooks has developed a corporate personality inventory tool which is designed to help businesses screen for psychopathic traits early on in the hiring process.
"We hope to implement our screening tool in businesses so that there's an adequate assessment to hopefully identify this problem to stop people sneaking through into positions in the business that can become very costly," says Brooks.
While their research certainly doesn't suggest Patrick Bateman will be your next boss, Brooks and Dr Fritzon will be tackling the issue of emerging non-criminal psychopathy at the 2016 APS Congress over the next three days.
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