New Study Says 1 Out of Every 5 Corporate Bosses Is a Psychopath

CEO psychopaths are a lot more common than we thought.

Photo Credit: sarahdahmer, Flickr

According to a new study, one out of every five corporate bosses is a psychopath.

The study surveyed 261 corporate professionals and determined that their "clinically elevated levels of psychopathy" were on par with the prison population. Nathan Brooks, a forensic psychologist at Bond University and researcher on this study, told ABC, "Their personality usually leads them to exploit every avenue open to them, whether it's in a criminal setting, or within organizations."

Psychopathy is often defined as a clinical disorder, characterized by a lack of empathy and narcissistic traits. One out of every 100 people is believed to be a psychopath, but this investigation shows that the numbers for CEOs are much larger.


According to Brooks, a certain "successful psychopath" has been allowed to rise in the corporate world, despite the fact that they're more likely to break the law or engage in unethical activity. "We hope to implement our screening tool in businesses so that there's an adequate assessment to hopefully identify this problem—to stop people sneaking through into positions in the business that can become very costly," said Brooks.

The study was conducted by Brooks along with colleagues Katarina Fritzon (also of Bond University) and Simon Croom of the University of San Diego. They presented their findings at the Australian Psychological Society Congress.

Many have cited the corporate penchant for illegality while pointing to the financial crisis of 2007-'08. Just this week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the Department of Justice calling for an investigation into President Obama's failure to jail anyone from Wall Street after the collapse. She expressed her concerns on Twitter:

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Michael Arria covers labor and social movements. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelarria