There's A Reason High-Stress Jobs Are Full of Psychopaths

University of Notre Dame research suggests employees with psychopathic traits feel happier when they work in abusive conditions. Baer Tierkel/Flickr

Aliyah Kovner 30 Jan 2018, 19:49

Though it is difficult to draw conclusions from a study so small, the authors believe these findings support the theory that psychopaths have innate tendencies and abilities that allow them to succeed in the types of difficult work environments that drive neurotypical employees away.

Hurst further hypothesizes that a workforce full of happy Patrick Batemans are in fact enabling bad managerial styles, ultimately contributing towards the toxic cultures surrounding some fields. 

"I don't know whether companies seek out employees who are psychopathic, but some companies seem to prioritize people who are strongly motivated by power, status, and personal gain, which tends to be truer of people high in psychopathy than those who are not," said Hurst. "That's one of the ways organizational cultures evolve over time so that the people within the organization are relatively similar."

Some companies, such as financial institutions, may purposefully utilize hostile techniques to drive productivity, whereas others may just be unwilling to address or correct systemic negativity. Either way, according to Hurst, the company might continually lose non-psychopath employees who can't handle the strain, while the employees with psychopath traits stay onboard long-term.

"At the extreme, they could end up with a highly engaged workforce of psychopaths.”


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