The standard clinical test for psychopaths, Robert Hare’s 20-point PCL-R checklist, evaluates 20 personality traits, but a subset of eight traits defines what Hare calls the corporate psychopath, the non-violent person prone to the selfish, callous and remorseless use of others.
Does your boss fit the profile? Here’s our do-it-yourself quiz.
(Disclaimer: this is a strictly amateur exercise . . .)
For each question:
score two points for yes one point for a bit/maybe no points for no
1. Is your boss superficially charming?
Are they a likeable personality and a great talker – entertaining, persuasive, but maybe a bit too smooth and slick? Do they pass themselves off as an expert in a business meeting even though they don’t really know much about the topic? Do they tell amusing but unlikely anecdotes celebrating their own past?
2. Do they have a grandiose sense of self-worth?
Are they arrogant, superior and domineering? Do they feel they’re above the rules that apply to ordinary people? Do they act as though everything revolves around them? Do they blame their problems on other people?
3. Are they a pathological liar?
Do they lie habitually, even though they can easily be found out? When they’re exposed, do they still act unconcerned because they worm their way out of it? Do you get the sense they enjoy lying? Is it hard to tell whether they know they’re a liar or whether they believe their own rubbish?
4. Are they a master manipulator?
Do they use their skill at lying to cheat or manipulate other people in a quest for money, power, status and sex? Do they use people brilliantly?
5. When they cause harm to other people, do they feel a lack of remorse or guilt?
Are they concerned about themselves rather than others’ feelings? Do they say they feel bad, but act as though they really don’t? Do they blame others for the trouble they cause?
6. Are they shallow and detached?
Are they cold even when someone suffers, falls ill or even dies – for example, do they visit the hospital or attend the funeral? Do they make brief, dramatic displays of emotion that are nothing more than putting on a mask or acting for effect? Do they claim to be your friend but rarely or never ask about the details of your life?
7. Do they lack empathy even to the point of callousness?
Are they profoundly selfish? Do they cruelly mock others? Are they emotionally or verbally abusive towards employees and family members? Would they fire employees without concern?
8 Do they fail to accept responsibility for their own actions?
Do they always come up with an excuse? Do they blame others?
If your boss scores
1–4 – be frustrated 5–7 – be cautious 8–12 –be afraid 13–16 – be very afraid
For a more rounded view on the madness industry, read Jon Ronson’s take in The Psychopath Test.