Some bosses are exceptional. (Here's how to tell.) You love working for them.

Other bosses are not: They're arrogant, rude, overbearing, overly demanding, don't act with integrity...and you hate working for them.

Unless you're a psychopath.

According to research, while most employees can't stand those kinds of behavior, psychopaths actually feel more engaged. "Primary psychopaths" benefit from bad bosses more than anyone.

What is a "primary psychopath"?

According to Dr. Charlice Hurst, an author of the study, a primary psychopath lacks empathy and is cool-headed and fearless. They aren't affected by things that cause most people to feel stressed, fearful, or angry. 

A secondary psychopath is more impulsive than a primary psychopath. That's why primary psychopaths tend to flourish under bad bosses: They don't get as angry, don't react as strongly...they coolly analyze the situation and find ways to flourish.

So a bad boss environment "may reward and retain exactly the kind of people who are likely to perpetuate abusive cultures," Hurst says. "Psychopaths thriving under abusive supervisors would be better positioned to get ahead of their peers."

Hurst uses the millions of phony accounts created by Wells Fargo employees as an example:

If they have a problem of endemic abuse, like Wells Fargo--where former employees have reported that managers used tactics designed to induce fear and shame in order to achieve unrealistic sales goals--and upper-level managers are either unaware of it or are not taking action, they might notice increasing levels of engagement due to turnover among employees low in primary psychopathy and retention of those high in primary psychopathy.

At the extreme, they could end up with a highly engaged work force of psychopaths.

Does that mean that people who seem to thrive under an abusive boss are psychopaths? Of course not. Some people do disengage. Some people do decide to leave. 

Yet some people do their best regardless--or even in spite--of the way they are treated by their bosses. 

But as Jessica Stillman suggested regarding other signs that someone is a psychopath, this study offers another intriguing clue for people trying to sleuth out the possible pathology of their resident office jerk.

If your suspected psychopath seems to thrive under a bad boss, that could be another strike against him--and another reason to proceed with caution.

Published on: Jan 30, 2018
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