Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It's easy to be suspicious, given the way some people behave.

Especially these days.

It's a little harder to put a medical term to who -- or, indeed, what -- they might be.

Some people are just strange. Others are certifiable psychopaths.

How can you tell the latter from the former?

Researchers at the Universities of Cardiff and Swansea in Wales believe they may have found a simple test.

They examined one group of offenders who were, well, normal offenders and another group who were psychopathic.

They showed them gruesome images, such as horribly mutilated bodies and ferocious dogs.

The normal offenders apparently had normal human reactions. Their pupils enlarged.

The psychopaths, however, provided physical evidence. Their pupils stayed exactly as they were.

Dr. Dan Burley, lead author of the study offered this simple assessment: 

The pupil usually dilates when an image shocks or scares us. The fact that this normal physiological response to threat is reduced in psychopathic offenders provides us with an obvious physical marker for this condition.

Most people have watched enough movies where a psychopathic killer appears unmoved by what they're perpetrating.

This research, however, offered an even more chilling twist.

When shown happy, positive images, the psychopathic group reacted just as other humans would -- with a dilation of the pupils.

Science has long been fascinated by psychopaths and what makes them the way they are.

Recent research from Germany and Denmark suggested that, actually, psychopaths, narcissists and sadists all share one similar characteristic. 

The researchers called it the D-Factor. Or Dark Factor. Their definition of it: 

The general tendency to maximize one's individual utility -- disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others -- accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications.

Some employees enjoy significant suspicions that their bosses aren't your usual harsh, unfair types, but something far more dangerous.

Of course, it's not going to be easy showing your boss horrific images while watching to see if their pupils dilate, but perhaps you can be imaginative in some way -- perhaps by showing them images from horror movies.

Once you've done that, it's also worth pausing to wonder whether a little psychopathy might be good for you.

I only mention it because, as my colleague Jessica Stillman recently reported, another study showed that being at least something of psychopath can help you get promoted.

Published on: Dec 19, 2018
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