Bosses Are 4 Times More Likely To Be Psychopaths

If you think your boss is a nutcase, you may be onto something, a new study suggests.

Business leaders are four times more likely to be psychopaths than the general population, according to a survey led by New York psychologist Paul Babiak, London's Daily Mail reports.

According to the findings, nearly 4 percent of bosses fit the profile of a psychopath, compared with 1 percent in the general population.

Babiak's research, which examines how many psychopaths had infiltrated major companies, will be aired next week in a British television documentary.

In the film, Babiak tells the show's producers: "Psychopaths really aren't the kind of person you think they are. In fact, you could be living with or married to one for 20 years or more and not know that person is a psychopath," the Daily Mail reports.

The psychologist goes on to say that individuals identified in his research could be termed "successful psychopaths," who are capable of mimicking the personality traits that people find most pleasing in their leaders.

"Their natural tendency is to be charming," Babiak says in the film. "Take that charm and couch it in the right business language and it sounds like charismatic leadership."

Babiak and University of British Columbia researcher Bob Hare developed an extensive questionnaire to determine how many bosses were psychopaths, the Daily Mail reports.

The concept of the "successful psychopath" is well-known, notes The Village Voice. In a blog item, the New York City weekly cites an article published four years ago by Scientific American which reported: "Some investigators have even speculated that 'successful psychopaths' -- those who attain prominent positions in society -- may be overrepresented in certain occupations, such as politics, business and entertainment."

Ruthless corporate behavior has been a popular theme in Hollywood films in recent decades. Gordon Gekko, the character portrayed by Michael Douglas in the 1987 movie "Wall Street," is perhaps the best known portrayal of corporate ruthlessness.

More recently, Kevin Spacey's character in the 2011 movie, "Horrible Bosses" (see video clip below), showcases the kind of callousness and disregard for others that Babiak's research hints at.

(Note: The video contains language that some viewers may find offensive)

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