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Top Bosses More Likely To Be Narcissistic And Machiavellian

The good news, according to this German study? Actual psychopaths rarely make it to the top ...

That's Mr. Burns, Homer's boss (Poor Homer...)
That's Mr. Burns, Homer's boss (Poor Homer...)
Sebastian Herrmann

MUNICH — It's considered common knowledge throughout the business world that, too often, the wrong people are in executive positions. But does it then follow that all top managers are ultimately sociopaths?

There may be at least a kernel of truth behind every generalization. A study published by University of Bern psychologists in the scientific journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciencedemonstrates that at least some negative personality traits do correlate with career success. It seems that narcissists and Machiavellians really do have the edge over others on climbing the career ladder. The good news is bonafide psychopaths, on the other hand, tend to get nowhere.

Psychologists were focusing in their analysis on the "dark triad," a group of three personality traits: overconfident narcissists who nevertheless need constant approval, Machiavellians who manipulate others, and psychopaths, who are characterized by a lack of impulse control and anti-social behavior.

For the study, the psychologists analysed data from 793 German employees, all at the beginning of their careers. It turned out that the narcissists earned slightly more than employees with smaller egos, and that Machiavellian personalities were more commonly found in leading positions than less manipulative people.

But psychopaths scored badly in both categories: They earned less than employees with more pleasant personalities and they were rarely seen in executive positions. Even in terms of subjective satisfaction, they came off worse.

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The Beast Among Us: Why Femicides Are Every Man's Responsibility

Why does the femicide of Giulia Cecchettin shake Italy but speaks to us all? Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra looks at what lies behind femicides and why men must take more responsibility.

photo of a protest with men in the foreground pointing fingers

At the Nov. 25 rally in Ravenna, Italy against violence against women

Fabrizio Zani/ANSA via ZUMA
Ignacio Pereyra


ATHENS — Are you going to write about what happened in Italy, Irene, my partner, asks me. I have no idea what she's talking about. She tells me: a case of femicide has shaken the country and has been causing a stir for two weeks.

As if the fact in itself were not enough, I ask what is different about this murder compared to the other 105 women murdered this year in Italy (or those that happen every day around the world).

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We are talking about a country where the expression "fai l'uomo" (be a man) abounds, with a society so prone to drama and tragedy and so fond of crime stories as few others, where the expression "crime of passion" is still mistakenly overused.

In this context, the sister of the victim reacted in an unexpected way for a country where femicide is not a crime recognized in the penal code, contrary to what happens, for example, in almost all of Latin America.

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