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When Psychopaths go to Work:

A Case Study of an Industrial Psychopath
Paul Babiak
Hopewell Junction, New York

La plupart des recherches sur les psychopathes ont Ctt conduites dans les
hbpitaux et les prisons. L’article ci-dessous propose l’analyse d’un psycho-
pathe en milieu industriel. La Check List Psychopathique: Version sur Ecran
(PCLSV) fut utiliste pour Cvaluer la psychopathie en observant et en codant
les comportements dans une situation d’emploi. Tandis que les prtctdentes
recherches sur des populations psychopathiques dans des milieux cliniques
ou cardraux dtmontrent qu’elles mknent des vies ratCes, cette Ctude de cas
prtsente un psychopathe industrielayant atteint la rtussite. Les psychopathes
industriels posstdent les caractkristiques des personnalitCs psychopathes mais
pas du tout la progression caractCrisCe du dtveloppement de cornportement
anti-social et de style de vie dtviant. Un modtle suggtre que dans le contexte
d’uo changement chaotique et “souterrain”, ils utilisent leurs talents
manipulateurs pour manoeuvrer avec succts les points-de-vues contra-
dictoires d’allits et de dttracteurs et dtboucher sur des mouvements de
carritre positifs.

Most research on psychopaths has been conducted in hospitals or prisons.

The present paper presents an analysis of a psychopath in an industrial
setting. The Psychopath Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV) was used
to assess psychopathy by observing and coding behaviours observed in an
employment situation. Although previous research on psychopathic popula-
tions in clinical and penal settings suggests that they lead unsuccessful lives,
a case study is presented as an example of a successful industrial psychopath.
Industrial psychopaths display psychopathic personality characteristics but
do not display the typical progression of increasing antisocial behaviour and
deviant lifestyle. A model is presented which suggests that in the context of
an organisation undergoing chaotic change they use their manipulation skills
to effectively manage the discrepant views of supporters and detractors,
resulting in successful career movement.

~~ ~~

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Paul Babiak, 27 Memory Lane, Hopewell
Junction, NY 12533, USA.

@ 1995 International Association of Applied Psychology


The inclusion of personality variables in YO research has had a productive
and at times controversial history (Argyris, 1957; Bentz, 1967; Campbell,
Dunnette, Lawler, & Weick, 1971; Ghiselli, 1971; Guion, 1965,1991; Guion
& Gottier, 1965; Hogan, 1991; Hogan, Hogan, & Busch, 1984; Hough et
al., 1990; Sackett & H a m s , 1984). Studies of managerial effectiveness in
particular have revealed the potentially detrimental effects of leaders’
negative personality traits. Lombardo, Ruderman, and McCauley (1988)
found that negative personality traits played a role in their executive sub-
jects’ ultimate “derailment”, while Kets de Vries (1991; Kets de Vries &
Miller, 1984) identified five personality disorders of key managers which
contributed to the creation of different neurotic organisational styles, as
manifested in corporate strategy, structure, and culture. Hogan, Raskin,
and Fazzini (1990, p.348) observed that “there are certain people who have
good social skills, who rise readily in organizations, and who ultimately
derail; but before they fail, they cost their organizations large sums of
money by causing poor morale, excessive turnover, and reduced pro-
ductivity”. These authors, in describing the “dark side of charisma”, add
(1990, p.352) that the narcissistic manager in particular “exploits his or
her subordinates while currying favor with his or her supervisors”.
Kets de Vries and Miller (1985, p.596) differentiate healthy from patho-
logical narcissists. The latter “cares little about hurting and exploiting
others in the pursuit of his own advancement” and is characterised by
“grandiosity, exhibitionism, and preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited
success”, “lacking of empathy”, and a “Machiavellian streak”. Unfor-
tunately, narcissists, driven by needs for prestige and power often end up
in leadership positions (Emmons, 1987; Kernberg, 1979; Kohut, 1971;
Person, 1986), and Hogan and his associates (1990, p.352) observed that
organisations “typically search for those qualities in potential CEOs that
our . . . flawed leaders (especially the Narcissists) are best able to project”.

There is another personality disorder, psychopathy, which has traditionally
been characterised by traits similar to narcissism, but which also includes
the potential for violence (Hart, Hare, & Forth, 1994; Widiger & Trull,
1994). and criminality (APA, 1987) making this a potentially important
area for applied research. However, very little research has been conducted
in industry, for various reasons to be discussed shortly, not the least of
which is the ability of the psychopath to mask hislher antisocial traits and
present an opposite [prosocial] demeanour, posing an obvious measure-
ment problem for clinical and organisational researchers alike.

The media image of the psychopath as a person who kills without

remorse, or a con-man who bilks old people of their life savings has
coloured the perspective of the average person. Certainly much of the
research on psychopathic populations in prison' bears out the violence
connoted by the term psychopath: male criminal psychopaths commit a
greater number of crimes than non-psychopathic criminals, their crimes
are more violent, and their general behaviour more aggressive, threatening,
and abusive (Hare & McPherson, 1984; Harpur & Hare, 1991). Further-
more, criminal psychopaths more often assault a n d o r murder individuals
unknown to them for cold-blooded reasons, whereas non-psychopathic
criminals tend to commit crimes of passion, often against individuals whom
they know (Williamson, Hare, & Wong, 1987; Wright & Wong, 1988).
In non-institutionalised psychopaths, however, the picture is not so
clear. Antisocial behaviours are almost never apparent to the casual
observer, being covered over by a convincing veneer of c h a m . It is only
after prolonged exposure that the psychopath's manipulative nature
becomes apparent. But even then, their often theatrical, but convincing
stories and explanations create an environment of trust which is eventually
replaced by self-doubt, or shame for being conned, precluding exposure,
confrontation, and, ultimately, research.
Historically, psychopathy has been characterised by a mixture of borh
overt antisocial behaviours and personality attributes that typically include
superficial charm; unreliability, untruthfulness, and insincerity; lack of
guilt, remorse, or shame; a need to engage in thrill-seeking behaviour;
failure to follow any life plan; impulsiveness; low frustration tolerance and
the inability to delay gratification; pathological lying; lack of insight, and
failure to learn from experience or punishment; pathologic egocentricity
and selfishness; inability to form meaningful relationships; antisocial and
asocial behaviour; rejection of authority and discipline; poor work and
marital history; and an arrest record (APA, 1952, 1968, 1980, 1987; Buss,
1966; Cleckley, 1976; Hare, 1993; McCord & McCord, 1964; Robins,
1966). However, in previous editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders (APA, 1980; 1987) clinical evaluations of
psychopathy, now referred t o as antisocial personality disorder (APD),
rely on antisocial and criminal behaviour almost exclusively, personality
traits having been removed from the diagnostic process because of the
difficulties associated with their assessment.
Because of the association of a diagnosis of psychopathy with crime,
the psychopath's ability to avoid the creation of a written public record
has become one of the criteria for differentiating criminal and forensic
'Virtually all research on psychopathy has been conducted on those in prison or forensic
hospitals where approximately 10% of the population are psychopaths compared to about
1% in the North American general population (Hare, 1993).

psychopaths from the less-studied non-institutionalised or “subcriminal”

psychopath (Hare, 1993). For researchers of subcriminal psychopaths,
then, the problem has been one of adequately and accurately identifying
and diagnosing psychopathic tendencies earlier on, prior to the documenta-
tion of antisocial activity.

Hare‘s Psychopathy Checklist

From an item pool of 200 characteristics drawn from the literature, Hare
(1991a) developed the 20-item Revised Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R).
Both the PCL-R and its predecessor, the PCL (Hare, 1985a; b), showed
significant and consistent reliability and validity for several clinically diag-
nosed populations of forensic and criminal psychopaths. The 12-item PCL:
Screening Version (PCL:SV; Hare, Hart, & Cox, in press; see Table I)
was developed for use with criminals and non-criminals, and shows similar
psychometrics (see Hart et al., 1994). (For an in-depth description of these
personality characteristics see Hare, 1993.)
Hare and his associates presented empirical support for a unidimen-
sional concept of psychopathy composed of two correlated factors (Hare
et al., 1990; Harpur, Hakstian, & Hare, 1988; Harpur, Hare, & Hakstian,
1989). Factor 1 loaded on characteristics descriptive of the psychopath’s
personality and is labelled ‘Selfish, callous, and remorseless use of others”,
while Factor 2 loaded heavily on overt antisocial and unstable behaviours
and is labelled “Chronically unstable, antisocial, and socially deviant life-
style”. These empirical findings are significant in re-establishing the import-
ance of including evaluations of the psychopathic personality in diagnoses
of psychopathy.
According to Hare (1991a, p.44):

a PCUF’CL-R diagnosis of psychopathy is more predictive of APD than

APD is of psychopathy . . . because most psychopaths engage in the sort of
antisocial behavior (have high scores on Factor 2) that also define APD,
whereas APD does not predict psychopathy very well because the majority

Items in the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version

Factor I Facror 2

1. Superficial 7. Impulsive
2. Grandiose 8. Poor behaviour controls
3. Manipulative 9. Lacks goals
4. Lacks remorse 10. Irresponsible
5. Lacks empathy 11. Adolescent antisocial behaviour
6. Does not accept responsibility 12. Adult antisocial behaviour

of prisoners and forensic patients with APD do not show evidence of the
personality characteristics defined by Factor 1. Research that uses either
DSM-I11 definitions of APD or self-report inventories taps the social
deviance component of psychopathy but misses the personality components
. . . measured by the PCUPCL-R.

Hare and his associates have demonstrated that criminal and forensic
psychopaths score high on both psychopathic personality characteristics
(high Factor 1) and socially deviant behaviour (high Factor 2), whereas
studies on normal samples have shown that non-psychopaths score low
(Hare, 1991; Hart et al., 1994; Trevethan & Walker, 1989). Other possible
profiles, such as low Factor 1, high Factor 2 for non-psychopathic antisocial
personality disorder, and high Factor 1, low Factor 2 for individuals with
psychopathic tendencies but without overt antisocial behaviour, have
received much less attention (R.Hogan, 1992,personal communication).

Psychopaths in Industrial Organisations

There are three initiaI questions to consider when beginning to study
psychopathy in industry: Could an individual with psychopathic tendencies
successfully enter an industrial organisation? What kind of organisation,
if any, would attract a psychopath? And could an individual with psycho-
pathic personality traits be successful in industry?

Orgunisational Entry. Cleckley’s (1976) case histories of clinical

psychopaths clearly document lives filled with violence, lies, and manip-
ulation, leaving one wondering just how family members, peace officers,
judges and others could be so gullible in the face of such evidence. But,
Hare, Forth, and Hart (1989, p.26) have found that “it is not uncommon
for the [research] interviewer [of a known psychopath] to be taken in by
what the psychopathic inmates have to say”. Only after carefully studying
videotapes did researchers realise that they had been “taken”.
The psychopaths’ ability to deceive cannot be underestimated.
Eisenman (1980, p. 117) found that high-school teachers rated student drug
users with psychopathic tendencies as more “likeable” than non-psycho-
pathic drug using students, concluding that “the results were consistent
with the expectation that psychopathic high school students would be able
to manipulate their interactions with teachers in such a way that the
teachers would like them”. Cleckley himself joked about his inability to
avoid manipulation Erom a psychopath whom he had just met, and studies
of famous con-men suggest that they can lead large portions of their lives
in society (Gill, 1987) without detection.
The likelihood of an individual with psychopathic manipulation skills
successfully entering an organisation is heightened when one considers that

human resource professionals are not trained to identify such individuals.

Exceptional charm and appearance of higher intelligence may, in fact,
make h i d e r appear to be an ideal candidate.
Psychologcal testing as a hiring screen €or psychopathology has typically
been limited to critical public safety positions (Lowman, 1989), and the
effectiveness of self-report instruments for identifymg psychopathy is in
doubt (Hare, 1985b, 1991a; Hawk & Peterson, 1974). The Minnesota
Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which is sometimes used in hiring
situations, has yet to receive widespread acceptance, and as Hare (1991)
has pointed out, it measures the social deviance factor in psychopathy and
not the personality traits. Also, Harpur, Hart, & Hare (1994) conclude
that current instruments based on Five-Factor models of personality may
not be adequate to identify the psychopath.

Organisational Attraction and Selection. One can argue that the

psychopaths’ inability to tolerate frustration and their excessive need for
stimulation (Quay, 1965) would dissuade them from seeking employment
in a traditional (i.e. bureaucratic, frustrating) organisation. In fact, Widom
(1977, p.675) has successfully used their high need for stimulation to attract
those she believed to be non-institutionalised psychopaths by placing
advertisements in a counterculture newspaper for “. . . adventurous,
carefree people who’ve led exciting impulsive lives”, and for “. . . charm-
ing, aggressive, carefree people who are impulsively irresponsible but good
at handling people . . .”. Based on the observation that the wording of
Widom’s advertisements was similar to a style of advertisements sometimes
used to attract entrepreneurial, business start-up types to new ventures, it
seems reasonable to suggest that some fast growing, highly dynamic
organisations may inadvertently attract subcriminal psychopaths to apply
for openings.

Organisational Success. Much of the success of subcriminal psycho-

paths is attributed t o their ability to evade apprehension, but unlike open
society where psychopaths change their venue often, an industrial organisa-
tion is a closed social order, limiting the environment in which to move
around. One would expect that antisocial behaviour and pathological lying
would eventually show through the charming faqade with daily interactions.
Increasing the likelihood of negative behaviour being noticed is the poss-
ibility, suggested by Vaillant (1975), that psychopaths, normally cool and
calm, exhibit anxiety when they lose their freedom.
In light of this, it might seem unlikely that a psychopath could be
successful in an industrial setting. However, in the chaotic business world
of “flattening”, “right-sizing”, mergers, and acquisitions, a large number
of transitional organisations exist, offering variety and stimulus without

the controls found in more stable organisations, and may offer an environ-
ment conducive to psychopathic manipulation.
It seems reasonable to hypothesise that subcriminal psychopaths found
in industry would possess psychopathic personality tendencies, measurable
by the PCL:SV Factor 1, but would not as yet have exhibited antisocial
behaviours sufficiently visible to evaluators to achieve other than a mod-
erate PCL:SV Factor 2 score.

The subject came to this writer’s attention during an organisational study*.
The events cited in this case were gathered during interviews of a variety
of organisation members including the president, two vice presidents, and
the directors of several departments. Direct observation of the subject was
possible on a fairly frequent basis for over a year, and included more than
a dozen face-to-face meetings, department staff meetings, teambuilding
sessions, and various company social functions. In addition, all personnel
documents, such as resumC, application blank, security and reference
checks, performance appraisals, memos, and supervisory notes were
reviewed. Indirect corroboration for some details was also available from
two external suppliers to the company who worked with the subject. Details
have been modified somewhat to assure anonymity of all concerned.
The company was a rapidly growing, highly profitable mid-western
United States electronic products cornpang. It originated as a small group
of highly motivated, entrepreneurial-type individuals, each with a technical
specialty suitable to developing and marketing a unique new product. As
the business expanded, changes at the executive level resulted in significant
changes in organisational culture, not unlike those typically experienced
by maturing entrepreneurial organisations (Flamholtz, 1990).

The Subject
During one meeting, Frank, the supervisor of the subject, raised the issue
of his “problem employee”, Dave, whose erratic performance and strange,
offensive behaviour was disrupting the department. Dave was in his mid-
thirties, a good looking, well spoken professional, married for the third
time with four children. He had a degree from a large university and had
been hired into a newly created position during a hiring surge. Dave inter-
’This case is one of three analysed by the methods described here and is illustrative of
the behaviours under study.
‘Other cases included a high-technology joint venture, and the corporate office of a large
company undergoing decentralisation and severe downsizing.

viewed well, impressing his prospective boss as well as the department

director with his creative mind, high energy level, and technical expertise.
Routine reference checks seemed positive as did a security check. Dave
had come across as such a perfect fit with the organisation that Frank was
surprised when things started to go wrong.
During his second week of employment Dave stormed into Frank’s
office and demanded that the department secretary be fired because she
had not demonstrated sufficient respect for him. According to her, Dave
had been rude and condescending, and was upset that she would not drop
everything to cater to his requests.
Although Dave often arrived early and stayed late, making a positive
impression on everyone in the office, the quality and quantity of his work
was actually less than it first appeared. Frank discovered that Dave’s first
major report included plagiarised material. When questioned, Dave
brushed aside the concern, commenting that he did not think it a good use
of his time and talents to “reinvent the wheel”. Subsequently, Dave would
“forget” to work on uninteresting projects, claimed that he was being
overworked, and frequently complained that some projects were beneath
Disruptive behaviours included verbal tirades during staff meetings to
which he often showed up both unprepared and late. He frequently left
during the middle of meetings in order to make “important” phone calls,
and denounced meetings as a waste of time, prefemng to conduct all of
his business in one-on-one conversations. When assigned to a task force
he dominated the discussions and verbally bullied other team members
into supporting his ideas. However, he would alternate berating others
with compliments, begging for forgiveness, and promising to return
After three months Frank spoke with Dave about his inability to get
along with others in the department, his inappropriate emotionality, and
unwillingness to assume a greater number of assignments. Dave acted
surprised that anyone thought there was a problem and denied causing any
disruption, adding that fighting and aggression were necessary in order to
achieve greater things in life. By the fourth month of Dave’s employment,
Frank was warned by a colleague who was leaving the organisation to
“watch out for Dave”.

The Interview Data

During the organisational analysis interviews, Dave’s name came up fre-
quently as the source of the department’s conflict both by individuals within
the department as well as observers from other departments. H e was often
described as rude, selfish, immature, self-centred, unreliable, and irre-

sponsible; but he was also described as bright, ambitious, and creative.

Virtually all individuals reported their initial liking for Dave. However,
over time many grew to distrust him and reported that they knew the
stories he used to gain their cooperation were fabrications [“He’s a
phoney”], but went along with him because they did not want to “call
him” on his lies. Some individuals reported that they felt sorry for Dave,
and a few reported feeling both “abandoned and relieved” when Dave
moved his attention and his requests to others.
Dave was frequently described as taking advantage of the organisation
and many of its members. Dave once convinced a manager to lend him an
expensive piece of equipment swearing that he would lock it up before
going home. The equipment was found by security that evening in an open
hallway. On three occasions Dave attempted to take specialised tools and
equipment home at the weekend without authorisation. In each instance
he argued with the security guard insisting that he was too well known in
the company to need a property pass and his work was too important to
be questioned.
There were several individuals in the company whom he was said to
have “wrapped around his finger”. These included a middle-aged staff
assistant through whom Dave interacted with the company grapevine, a
young female security guard who worked at the entrance of the building
in the early evening, and a professional in another department who was
described by some as Dave’s “soul mate” and by others as the person who
was really completing Dave’s assignments. Dave frequently showed up at
this person’s office in an agitated state and she would allegedly “counsel”
him. All made positive, glowing comments about Dave, and one described
him as a nice guy, “an artist who was misunderstood”.
Some of the stories told about Dave were humorous. One secretary
reported a time when he knelt down at her desk to beg for something he
wanted. Another reported that her boss asked her to change his own travel
itinerary so that he did not have to fly on the same plane as Dave. Several
people said that Dave saw himself as a “ladies man”, flirting openly with
the younger staff. During one after-work gathering, Dave offered a co-
worker a drink, and then tried to leave without paying for it. The woman
reminded him of his offer and Dave caused a scene by arguing with the
waitress over the price of the drink.
Several executives interviewed as part of the organisational effectiveness
study mentioned Dave as an employee with potential for management,
citing examples of behaviour that might be categorised as “organisational
citizenship behaviour” (Organ & Konovsky, 1989). Although they could
not identify specific accomplishments attributable to Dave, they suggested
that he was an ambitious man in need of a bit of polishing. When asked
to detail some of Dave’s management development needs, each admitted

to not knowing him well enough to comment, and referred this writer to
Frank, Dave’s manager.
During his interviews Dave described himself as a hard worker, a strong
leader, a teambuilder. honest, intelligent, and the guy who was really
making the department successful. He repeatedly identified his boss as the
source of all of the problems in the department, and suggested to this
writer that his boss leave the company and he take over running the depart-
ment. (His boss, Frank, said that Dave had made the same suggestion to
him directly.)
Dave came across as egotistical. For example, he described in detail
how often the company president called him personally for advice. He also
bragged about how he managed to get a bigger hotel room than the presid-
ent while attending an offsite meeting. However, at the same time he did
not at all seem concerned about the opinion others had of him. His attitude
and choice of words left the impression that people were objects to him
and that everything he did was part of a game.
While having a cocktail with the subject one evening, this writer asked
Dave how he got his boss to approve an expensive and controversial capital
expenditure. Without emotion, Dave looked into this writer’s eyes and
stated “I lied”. Through interactions such as this, Dave gave the strong
impression that he truly believed everything he was saying and there was
no reason for you not to either. His conviction could often be read as

The Written Record

In reviewing Dave’s credentials several discrepancies were discovered.
Dave had listed four major fields of study on his resume, application blank,
and other documents. When confronted, he dismissed the discrepancies
with a comment that there was nothing wrong in using different major
designations for different purposes because he had taken courses in these
subjects. (He did not possess a degree in the field for which he was hired.)
Further investigation revealed expense reports containing numerous
undocumented charges. When confronted, Dave became irate and stated
that the request for receipts was a symptom of a sick organisation. This
writer was also shown a memo from the purchasing manager warning Dave
to stop ordering merchandise and supplies directly from vendors, without

Subsequently, Frank discovered that Dave had been using company time
and materials t o start his own business. After collecting enough physical
evidence to undertake disciplinary action, Frank went to his own boss [the

director] for support, only to find out that Dave had been complaining to
him about Frank since he joined the company. After hearing the other
side of a lot of stories, the director realised that Dave was distorting the
truth to make Frank look bad and gain sympathy for himself. Convinced
that Dave was a liar and a possible thief, the executive went to the president
and vice president only to discover that Dave was well regarded by them
and considered a high potential employee. They told him to leave Dave
Within a couple of weeks a reorganisation took place; Frank ended up
in a new function and Dave was promoted. Individuals interviewed after
the promotion reported that Dave’s behaviour became even more unbear-
able, that he was “cocky”, “in love with himself’, and even developed a
“swagger” in his walk.

The PCL: Screening Version (Hare, Hart, & Cox, in press), was used to
assess psychopathy of this subject. This instrument consists of 12 psycho-
pathic characteristics (see Table 1) which are assigned values by the
evaluator (2 = match, 1 = partial match, 0 = no match or opposite). The
evaluator bases hisher determinations on face-to-face interviews with the
subject as well as a review of available documentation.
The total score is the sum of all items. Two subscale scores are calculated
by summing items previously identified by factor analyses (Hare, Hart, &
Cox, in press; Harpur et al., 1988).

A PCL:SV total score of 19 was calculated for the present subject. The
recommended cutoff score for psychopathy on the PCL:SV is 18 (Hart et
al., 1994)4.The PCL:SV Factor 1 score was 11 (out of a possible 12) and
the PCL:SV Factor 2 score was 8 (out of 12). Hart et al. (1994) report
mean PCL:SV total scores of 12.97 (SD = 4.92), 15.77 (SD = 4.34), and
16.41 (SD = 3.49) for forensic nonpsychiatric inmate populations, and 3.09
(SD = 3.43) for university students. Comparable results for the PCL-R
are summarised in Hare (1991a).
‘On the PCL-R,which was designed primarily for use with criminal populations and has
a cutoff of 30,the subject received a total Score of 29.4. (This result is at the 71st percentile
for inmates, 86th percentile for forensic patients; Hare, 1991a.) Some investigators have
suggested that Hare and his associates are too conservative in their assessment and a lower
cutoff score of 25 might be more appropriate (Hams, Rice. & Quinsey. 1994). The subject’s
F1 score was 15 (out of 16) which is at the 97th percentile for inmates and the 97th percentile
for forensic patients. The F2 score was 11.6 (out of 18) which is at the 41st percentile for
inmates and the 49th percentile for forensic patients.


All’ of the subjects scored extremely high on the psychopathic personality
(Fl) component and moderately high on the deviant lifestyle (F2) com-
ponent of both the PCL:SV and the PCL-R, and achieved total scores at
or exceeding the cutoffs for psychopathy.

Discrepant Views
Cleckley (1976) suggested that psychopaths present a “mask of sanity” to the
outside world which protects their true inner state from being uncovered.
It seemed clear from the differing views about the subject encountered in
this study that one portion of the organisation saw the mask Dave wanted
to project, while others, such as Frank, over time saw “behind the mask”.
Dave consistently made favourable first impressions. Over time, how-
ever, the perceptions of some organisation members grew increasingly
negative. The discrepant views in organisation members’ perceptions
seemed to vary as a function of the frequency of interaction with Dave and
the finesse he used to influence them based on their current utility to him
(see Fig. 1).
Doren (1987) has observed, in hospital settings, that psychopaths seek
out the highest authority with which to interact and demonstrate great skill
at influencing people in power (Yukl & Tracey, 1992). The president and
vice president (see Fig. 1, QI) in this case were so influenced by Dave’s
charming faGade that they rationalised Dave’s disruptive, antisocial
behaviours into organisationally acceptable terms. For example, Dave’s
“tantrums” were excused as part of his creative, artistic bent, while his
verbal aggression and backbiting were described as “ambition”.
The QII individuals, including some who had relatively little status or
authority in the organisation, had high utility for Dave. He was able to
manipulate the informal communication network via the staff assistant,
had much of his day-to-day work done by the “soul mate”, and gained
unchallenged access to the building via his relationship with the evening
security guard. All of these individuals reported being flattered by his
attention and frequent requests for assistance [ingratiation and personal
appeal tactics], as well as his offers to speak on their behalf to upper
management [exchange tactic; Yukl & Tracey, 19921. Particularly illus-
trative of his manipulation skill is how he used the staff assistant as a
conduit t o the informal communication network of the company-the
grapevine. Dave spread negative information about his boss and other
rivals by “sharing secrets” with her [exchange tactic], or sometimes by
‘Results for Subject 2: PCL:SV Total = 19, SVFl = 1 1 , SVF2 = 8; PCL-R Total = 30.6,
F1 = 15, F2 = 11.6. Results for Subject 3: PCL:SV Total = 20.7, SVFl = 12, SVF2 = 8.4;
PCL-R Total = 30, F1 = 16, F2 = 11.6.



Departmen t Director + + Department Director

Frank “Soul Mate”
Co-Workers Evening Security Guard
HI Department Secretary Staff Assistant
Some Peers


Purchasing Manager President

Weekend Security Vice Presidents
Guards Some Peers

FIG. 1 . After one year, discrepant views of Dave emerged.

simply “corroborating” some of the rumours she shared with him. In

contrast, he provided her with sufficient positive information (and
charming impressions) about himself which also found their way into the
organisation. As his relationship with her matured, the information he
gleaned grew beyond typical office gossip (i.e. the head of research is
incompetent; the company founder has aspirations of running for public
office) to more politically useful information about other communication
linkages. For example, when Dave learned that one of the executives was
having an extramarital relationship with a junior staff member, Dave
cultivated a friendship with her, initiated by a “chance” meeting in the
cafeteria. (The use, by psychopaths, of third-party “messengers” and
“advocates” to influence institutional authorities has also been documented
by Doren, 1987, pp.171; 231.)
Among the higher status QI1 individuals, Dave convinced the depart-
ment director that he could deliver new products [rational persuasion and
consultation tactics] which would enhance the department director’s
position with the executives [inspirational appeal tactic], all the while
denigrating Frank, his boss. This relationship also gained him access to
higher-level information, which he then used to reinforce his credibility
with his peers [coalition and legitimising tactics]. In the face of evidence
of Dave’s dishonesty, the director’s perception changed immediately (see
Fig. 1, QII/QIII), due to his feelings of personal betrayal.
Over time those who worked closest t o Dave (QIII) grew to see him as
a deceitful, lying manipulator. As their utility to Dave declined, he stopped
maintaining the faqade; faced with this new side of Dave, they questioned,
then modified their initial evaluations. Rarely, however, did they share
their negative experiences with each other, a reaction typical of victims of
psychopaths (Cleckley, 1976; Hare, 1993). Frank, in particular was origin-
ally an advocate for Dave and defended him to others, but once Dave
established a secure relationship with Frank’s boss and felt he no longer had
use for Frank, he stopped following his orders and began bad-mouthing
him to higher m a n a g e m e n t i n the interest of taking Frank’s job.
Those fulfilling audit or challenge (QIV) functions easily observed
Dave’s attempts to circumvent procedures. When challenged, Dave
reacted with bravado [legitimising and pressure tactics; Yukl & Tracey,
19921, a typical low frustration tolerance response, and then ignored the
This writer suggests that Dave identified powerful or organisationally
useful (Ql and QII) individuals necessary to his survival in the organisation,
and manipulated them more consistently and with more finesse than others
whom he perceived to be either detractors (QIII), o r obstacles (QIV). The
ultimate outcome-a discrepancy in the perceptions of the subject between
different members of the organisation-is the core of the psychopath’s
ability to succeed in an industrial organisation.

Psychopathic Manipulation in Industry:

Comparison of the behaviour of the three subjects observed to date
revealed some similarities: each (a) began by building a network of one-to-
one relationships with powerful and useful individuals, (b) avoided virtu-
ally all group meetings where maintaining multiple faqades may have been
too difficult, and (c) created conflicts which kept co-workers from sharing
information about him (a pattern observed among hospitalised psycho-
paths, Doren, 1987). Once their power bases were established, (d) co-
workers who were no longer useful were abandoned and (e) detractors
were neutralised by systematically raising doubts about their competence

and loyalty. In addition, unstable cultural factors, inadequate measurement

systems, and general lack of trust typical of organisations undergoing rapid,
chaotic change may have provided an acceptable cover for psychopathic
Further research is needed to ascertain the extent of psychopathy in
industry and to measure its effects on people and the organisation. One
must be cognisant of the limited role of a case study; that is, to raise
awareness, generate hypotheses, and stimulate interest in conducting
further research. Until this is done, there is no way of knowing how wide-
spread psychopathy is in industry, or of understanding the true effects of
psychopathic participation in organisational life (for example, the effects
of complete absence of loyalty, preoccupations with self-serving, self-
preserving manipulation, and unseen antisocial behaviour towards organ-
isational members).
It might be fruitful to include the PCL:SV in studies of conscientious-
ness, leadership effectiveness, narcissism, influence tactics, impression
management, organisational citizenship behaviour, procedural justice, and
integrity testing. Recent findings suggesting that psychopathy may form a
taxon (Hams, Rice, & Quinsey, 1994) underscore its inclusion as a unique
variable, as do changes in the text description of psychopathy in DSM-IV
which now includes personality characteristics of the sort measured by the
PCL:SV (APA, 1994).

Manuscript received 26 October 1993

Revised manuscript received 11 May 1994

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