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By Stephen Pederson

Ten Jobs that Attract Psychopaths

Have you Ever Spotted these Tendencies at Work?


Book: The Wisdom of Psychopaths

Book by Dr. Kevin Dutton: The Wisdom of Psychopaths

There are job profiles that tend to attract individuals with psychopathic characteristics.  Most of us have an idea about these characteristics – garnered from watching movies. 

Many of us would agree with the attributes described as psychopathic in the following definition of the term (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that has been variously characterized by shallow emotions (including reduced fear, a lack of empathy, and stress tolerance), cold-heartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, criminality, antisocial behavior, a lack of remorse, and a parasitic lifestyle. However, there is no consensus about the symptom criteria and there are ongoing debates regarding issues such as essential features, causes, and the possibility of treatment.

However, psychopathic tendencies are not always negative or necessarily evil.   In fact, everyone to some degree or another will demonstrate some of these tendencies at some point in their lives.  The above definition contains some negatively connotated descriptions of psychopathic attributes, however psychologist and researcher, Dr. Kevin Dutton, puts some of these attributes in more “acceptable” terms, which might be more surprising to you:

”a number of psychopathic attributes [are] actually more common in business leaders than in so-called disturbed criminals — attributes such as superficial charm, egocentricity, persuasiveness, lack of empathy, independence, and focus.”

Looking at this definition, you can see that some psychopathic attributes can certainly lead to positive outcomes in certain roles and at certain times in our careers.   In Dutton’s book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, he details the top 10 jobs that attract individuals that score higher on psychopathic tendencies:

The TOP 10 Jobs That Attract Psychopaths

  1. CEO
  2. Lawyer
  3. Media (radio/television)
  4. Sales person
  5. Surgeon
  6. Journalist
  7. Police Officer
  8. Clergy Person
  9. Chef
  10. Civil Servant

Writer Jon Ronson, author of the book, “The Psychopath Test: Journey Through the Madness Industry” claims that psychopathy incidents are about 4% in CEOs roles, which is about 4 times the normal incidence of psychopathy (about 1%) in the population at large.

For more on this topic, see the following links:

The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success

Why some Psychopaths make great CEOs –

Hare Psychopathy Checklist

See all posts on Demographics

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