Psychopaths are as common in the business elite as...

Psychopaths are as common in the business elite as they are in prison

wolf of wall street

The Wolf of Wall Street persona that is often portrayed in Hollywood has begun to seep into reality it seems, with research showing that 1 in 5 corporate workers may indeed be psychopaths. With the employees exhibiting traits such as self-obsession, ruthlessness and a lack of empathy towards their fellow employees.

Australian Forensic Psychologist Nathan Brooks presented his PhD paper earlier this week, finding that in the general community only 1 in 100 members showed psychopathic traits, but when he examined senior executives and managers the traits were found in up to 21 per cent.

Helping to coin the term ‘successful’ psychopath, he said the new era of psychopathic corporate elite had come in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis with employees wanting to dominate the market.

Exclaiming, “We are really talking about someone who strives to dominate others. They are ruthless. They are very callous. They have no conscience and really it’s all about self-gain.”

Further warning was issued on these ‘successful psychopaths’ as Brooks advised they would cost companies in one way or another – either financially, criminally, through poor staff retention or leading to low office morale, all factors that companies know could have detrimental effects on their businesses.

Further warning, “Their personality usually leads them to exploit every avenue open to them, whether it’s in a criminal setting, or within organisations.”


Brooks presented this alarming research at the Australian Psychology Society Congress in Melbourne, where he further explained that psychopathy “in moderate levels, it could be successful but with too many traits and, in too higher levels, it’s going to be a problem” for companies.

He had previously told the Adelaide Advertiser in 2014 that males and females were even in this area, as both sexes were “…very good at finding weaknesses and vulnerabilities in others.”

With this he urged companies to firstly consider personality features and then skills in their recruitment process, saying that himself and his fellow researchers had developed a tool to help companies screen the characters of employees for psychopathic traits first, before considering their skills set.

He explained why they had developed the screening tool, “We hope to implement our screening tool in businesses so that there’s an adequate assessment to hopefully identify this problem” and “to stop people sneaking through into positions in the business that can become very costly”.

Brooks PhD paper, worked with researchers from Bond University and the University of San Diego, Katarina Fritzon and Simon Croom, to examine the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills of psychopathic individuals and to develop the psychopathic personality screenings for companies recruitment.