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When you hear the term "psychopath," you probably picture Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer. Psychologists, however, define it as a personality trait, and we all fall somewhere along a scale from low to high levels of psychopathy.
In the workplace, employees respond differently to abusive management styles, in part due to their varying levels of psychopathy, according to a new study from the University of Notre Dame.
Certain - Types - Psychopaths - Bosses - Are
Certain types of "psychopaths" actually benefit and flourish under abusive bosses, according to "Are 'Bad' Employees Happier Under Bad Bosses? Differing Effects of Abusive Supervision on Low and High Primary Psychopathy Employees." The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Business Ethics by Charlice Hurst, assistant professor of management in Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.
"There are primary and secondary dimensions of psychopathy," Hurst explains. "Both consist of high levels of antisocial behavior; however, people who score high in primary psychopathy lack empathy and are cool-headed and fearless. They don't react to things that cause other people to feel stressed, fearful or angry. Secondary psychopaths are more hot-headed and impulsive.
Psychopaths - Supervisors - Peers - Psychopathy - Emotions
"We found that primary psychopaths benefit under abusive supervisors. Relative to their peers low in primary psychopathy, they felt less anger and more engagement and positive emotions under abusive supervisors."
Hurst, along with Lauren Simon (University of Arkansas), Yongsuhk Jung (Korea Air Force Academy) and Dante Pirouz (Western University), conducted two studies with 419 working adults. In one study, participants were asked to react to profiles of managers depicted as constructive or abusive. In that study, there were no differences in anger...
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