Psychopathic behaviour falls far from the murderous psychopath portrayed in Hollywood, according to an Oxford professor.
Psychopathic qualities, argues Dr Kevin Dutton, can actually predetermine people for success.
The University of Oxford psychology professor shares what he calls the ‘psychopathic spectrum’, which includes personality traits ranging from charisma to lack of empathy.
He’s not diagnosing anyone as a clinical psychopath, but rather investigating where individuals fall on the spectrum. The spectrum includes qualities such as ruthlessness, fearlessness, self-confidence, focus, coolness under pressure, mental toughness, charm, charisma – along with deficits in empathy and conscience.
“Those personality characteristics kind of predispose you to success,” he tells RadioLIVE.
Dr Dutton’s full research is detailed in his book The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, where he lists the professions most likely to attract psychopaths.
CEO ranked as number one as the top psychopathic profession, but Dr Dutton clarifies that it’s not to say CEOs are all Hannibal Lecter protégés.
A businessman may be smart, but he will never be able to make cutthroat decisions without ruthlessness or fearlessness. Without the characteristics that lie on the psychopathic spectrum, the businessperson will never become extraordinary.
“No matter how smart you are, you’re not going to make it as a business person.”
Lawyers landed at number two on Dr Dutton’s list, followed by the media at number three.
The Oxford professor explains that TV presenters and radio hosts must have focus, coolness under pressure, and be ruthless with their ideas in order to succeed.
“You’ve got to be pretty self-confident, dare I say have a streak of narcissism in you, to be in front of a camera or a mic,” he says.
Dr Dutton emphasises that the psychopathic characteristics found in these professions aren’t dysfunctional but are rather quite the opposite.
“There are going to be certain jobs and professions which by their very nature are going to demand some of those dials are going to be turned up just a bit higher than average.”
Dr Dutton's top ten professions likely to attract psychopaths:
- Civil servant
Listen to the full interview with Kevin Dutton above.
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