Charm and manipulation, qualities possessed by many business leaders around the world, could denote influential figures are actually psychopaths.
A study conducted by a New York-based psychologist has found one in 25 bosses could disguise the condition and their lack of moral instincts through their high status within a business.
It is suspected environmental factors, such as a happy and loving childhood, means psychopathic business leaders are able to function in a job setting and explains why they do not show outward signs of anger and violence.
One of the main indicators that demonstrate the condition is someone’s ability to rapidly gain respect and trust from their seniors, enabling them to climb the career ladder quickly.
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Paul Babiak, who conducted the study, revealed its results in a BBC documentary.
He commented: “Psychopaths really aren't the kind of person you think they are ... you could be living with or married to one for 20 years or more and not know that person is a psychopath.
“Part of the problem is that the very things we're looking for in our leaders, the psychopath can easily mimic.
“Their natural tendency is to be charming. Take that charm and couch it in the right business language and it sounds like charismatic leadership,” he said.
Babiak worked with psychopathy expert Bob Hare to come up with the 111-point questionnaire which formed the crux of the investigation.
The documentary, Horizon: Are you good or evil?, can be seen on BBC2 on 7 September 2011.
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