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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August 2004, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
How to spot a psychopath at work
commuters generic
On the way to work. But who will they find there?
How well do you know your colleagues' personalities? Researchers warn some of them may have psychopathic traits.

But they say this is nothing to be worried about.

They will not be violent, but their psychopathic traits will allow them to climb the career ladder, New Scientist magazine reports.

Professor Robert Hare, of the University of British Columbia says "corporate psychopaths'" arrogance and focus helps them succeed.

They may also be superficially charming, prone to fly into rages and likely to take credit for colleague's achievements.

Professor Hare estimates that around one per cent of the population of North America could be described as psychopaths.

'Focussed'

He has developed the 'Business Scan 360' test, along with New York industrial organisational psychologist Paul Babiak in order to detect them.

People do say that you're a psychopath if you're violent and a successful businessman if you're not
Paul Corry, mental health charity Rethink
The test involves interviewing people working with the person concerned to get a '360 degree' assessment of their personality.

They are currently interviewing 100 people convicted of fraud or embezzlement - who will serve as a benchmark of the ultimately undesirable employee.

They will then interview a "normal" population of managers, and a group of high flyers to see if they can distinguish exactly which traits lead to career success and which have less desirable consequences.

Mr Babiak said: "If you imagine the conscientious employee at one end of the continuum and a prototypical 'corporate psychopath' at the other end, the test attempts to gauge where the individual is."

Paul Corry, of the mental health charity Rethink, told BBC News Online: "It shows that mental health is an issue all around us."

He said there was also lots of evidence that people who were highly motivated and highly successful - particularly in finance and business - had some psychopathic traits.

"These are people who are extremely focussed on achieving their goals, and who are not too concerned about other people's feelings.

"There are other people who have very narcissistic traits; they want to be centre-stage and their needs have to be put first."

He added: "People do say that you're a psychopath if you're violent and a successful businessman if you're not."

Psychopathy is defined as a lack of empathy for others, or a conscience, and can be associated with extreme and manipulative behaviour.

This is distinct from psychosis, a group of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.


SEE ALSO
When office work turns ugly
12 Aug 04 |  Business

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