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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 13:49 GMT
Is your boss a 'corporate psycho'?
Robert Maxwell
Could Robert Maxwell have survived the "B-Scan"?

Millions of harassed workers could have their worst fears confirmed about their bosses thanks to a new test to weed out the 'corporate psycho'.

You may already suspect that your boss's smooth, charming exterior masks a sadistic control freak with a penchant for violence.

But help is at hand to stop mad, megalomaniac managers going completely bananas and scampering off with the company pension fund.

Two of the world's leading experts on psychopathy have developed a new 107-point questionnaire to identify which desks those smooth-talking "snakes in suits" might be hiding behind.

Psycho scanner

The "B-Scan", which stands for Business Scan, has been designed by Professor Robert Hare and Dr Paul Babiak, both experts in psychopathic disorders.

It follows on from the "P-Scan" which is now considered to be the standard test for detecting criminals with psychopathic leanings.

The psychopath has a darker side...almost like a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde effect"
Dr Paul Babiak

Professor Hare estimates that 1% of the general population in North America are psychopaths.

The professor believes that psychopath's cold-blooded ability to manipulate others without remorse, coupled with a veneer of charm and high energy can make them extremely successful in many walks of life.

They could be perfectly qualified for top posts in the military, politics or in huge multi-national companies as history has already shown in one notorious case.

Former Daily Mirror tycoon Robert Maxwell, who made off with the newspaper's pension fund, was named as a classic example of a man in a powerful position who might very well have displayed psychopathic traits.

Telltale signals

BBC Five Live asked Dr Paul Babiak, one of the two psychologists who devised the B-scan, how to spot if a boss has psychopathic tendencies.

"I'm not going to tell you that it's easy," Dr Babiak cautioned.

"Like many people in business they have strong egos, high energy and are somewhat narcissistic...all these things are valued in business."

David Brent from TV's The Office
Is he just embarrassing, or could he be dangerous as well?

"But the psychopath has a darker side behind that almost like a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde effect"

Traits to look out for amongst your colleagues in the workplace are "glimpses of insincerity, arrogance, manipulative behaviour, lack of guilt or remorse", he said.

These are characteristics that a lot of us display at some time, but according to Dr Babiak the psychopath exhibits these tendencies throughout every aspect of their lives.

Stuck like glue

Once they have their talons dug into a company they may be too well connected politically to shift, hiding their dangerous natures behind a network of influence and manipulation.

However, Professor Hare stressed that some organisations would highly value these traits.

"Used car salesmen, for example, need to be cut-throat," he pointed out.

"The major problem is that psychopaths get into organisations very well as they interview well and can convince people they are right for the job.

"But as soon as the person is hired, all sorts of problems start."

Clues to a murderer's mind
04 Sep 01  |  Health

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