Are the lunatics running the asylum?

Researcher says business should be screening for corporate psychopaths
||Last Updated: 04/10/2003

Could some of the recent high-profile accounting scandals and corporate fraud be the fault of senior executives with psychopathic tendencies? That’s what one researcher is suggesting.

Robert Hare, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, estimates about one per cent of the population — or about 300,000 Canadians — are clinical psychopaths.

Addressing a conference of the Canadian Police Association in St. John’s, Nfld. he said people applying for positions as police officers and teachers are screened, but corporate executives — who handle hundreds of billions of dollars — aren’t subjected to the same kind of testing.

Hare said corporate head hunters are too reliant on resumes and standard face-to-face interviews, which reveal next to nothing about a candidate’s psychological profile, and the average psychopath has no trouble moving through that process undetected.

Because psychopaths are callous, cold-blooded individuals with little sense of guilt and remorse, they’re often able to climb high up the corporate ladder, he said.

He said corporations can weed out psychopaths using assessment tools, and making sure the interviewer has access to the candidate’s family, friends and colleagues.

Hare developed a 90-item checklist, called a P-Scan, for police officers, corrections personnel and hostage negotiators. He’s currently working on a new checklist to help recruiters quickly spot psychopathic traits among potential employees.

For more information about Robert Hare’s research, visit

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