Updated 26 October 2015

Psychopaths at work and the 10 jobs that attract them

Not all psychopaths are cold blooded killers. In fact, most of them live ‘innocently’ beside us and some of them are even our friends or colleagues. Take a look at their inherent traits and the careers where they're most often found.

While they don’t commit crimes, they can make life of people around them a living hell with their remorseless attitudes and lack of conscience or emotions.

They can fake emotions to suit their needs and, because of their lack of empathy, never feel sorry for those at the receiving end of their actions. But when the tables are turned, they can be enormously capable of self-pity. It has nothing to do with remorse, but a deep sorow for themselves and for the consequences - to themselves - of what they have done

They will blatantly lie, without blinking an eye, and manipulate others into doing what they want you to do.

It’s estimated that one in 100 people has psychopathic tendencies.

So what makes a person a psychopath?

They love themselves, and nobody else. They’re irrational and impulsive as much as they are inconsiderate and unreliable.

They often repeat the same offence because they cannot learn from experience.

They are easily frustrated and bored, which is when they turn nasty and aggressive.

Read: Psychopaths are wired for reward

People with psychopathic tendencies are often antisocial, but it may only manifest at certain times. For instance, they may be charming and friendly at work but a bad tempered bully at home.

In their book Snakes in Suits, When Psychopaths go to Work, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare take a look at the psychopath who displays a personality disorder rooted in lying, manipulation, deceit, egocentricity and callousness.

They warn that these people’s abusive behaviours damage relationships with spouses, friends, and family members, but also with colleagues.

Their grandiosity, sense of entitlement and lack of personal insight lead to conflict and rivalry with bosses and coworkers and their impulsivity and ‘live in the moment’ philosophy lead them to keep repeating these and other dysfunctional, antisocial behaviours, despite performance appraisals and training programmes.

Their charm ensures they get hired; their decision making ability is seen as a leadership quality; their callousness and insensitivity is seen as the perfect skills for a company to survive in a fast-paced, unemotional business world.

The authors explain that when psychopaths are in a position of leadership, they risk financially harming the company but can also damage the careers of those under them when they emotionally or physically abuse them.

They say that when a senior executive finds his or her authority and security compromised by a ‘high-potential’ management candidate moving up the ranks, they’ll resort to covert attacks and defensive maneuvers, thereby wasting valuable time and energy that could otherwise be focused on creativity, productivity and profitability.

While bruised leadership egos and lowered morale are hard to measure, it can ultimately lead to a huge decline in a company’s performance.

Read: How to spot a liar

Where will you find them?

The Independent recently asked Statista to chart the top ten jobs that attract psychopaths. Using a ranking compiled by Alternet, the chart reveals that CEO takes the first place, followed by lawyers and members of the media.

psychopath jobs

Read more:

How to recognise a psychopath

Psychopaths have faulty brain connections

Psychopaths: Inside the mind of a monster

Health24's CyberShrink advises on psychopaths


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