Profession and Psychopath Correlation

The study did not have full explanations about why, but here is the list of the professions with the highest and lowest correlations with being a psychopath:

The top 10 most psychopathic professions:

1. CEO
2. Lawyer
3. Media (TV/radio)
4. Salesperson
5. Surgeon
6. Journalist
7. Police officer
8. Clergyperson
9. Chef
10. Civil servant

The top 10 least psychopathic professions:

1. Care aide
2. Nurse
3. Therapist
4. Craftsperson
5. Beautician/stylist
6. Charity worker
7. Teacher
8. Creative artist
9. Doctor
10. Accountant

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Jeremy

    Not too surprising. It seems to me that ability to influence, not empathy, is a required trait for the top 10, but the reverse is true for the bottom.

  • Doc Mike

    Interesting, especially since many psychologists/counselors score high on the psychopathic deviate scale on the MMPI-II.

    We score high, however, because we tend to swim upstream rather than going with the flow, to color everywhere but within the lines, and can’t imagine thought being possible inside the box!

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    Empathy is absolutely critical in my legal practice.

  • Jeremy

    Kullervo, that was a broad brush statement. I know a few very empathetic lawyers (and we have several here), but they all agreed that their profession was full of manipulative sharks and they had to constantly guard against adopting some of the worst character traits of their colleagues. It probably has more to do with what you specialize in than anything else.

  • Barb

    although its not 100% I see more extroverts in the bottom list–just sayin :)

  • alan hitt

    Well, at least now when a journalist or some media personality accuses a clergy person of being nuts, the clergy person can say, “Not as nuts as you.”

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    It probably has more to do with what you specialize in than anything else.

    Certainly! I do wills, trusts and estates.

  • Anita Pagitt

    Ha. I made the least likely list but since I’m considering becoming clergy, what does that say?

  • http://www.bloodstainedink.wordpress.com Ryan

    The most disturbing thing about this list is the increasing trend of senior pastors of non-denominational, evangelical churches that envision themselves as CEOs.

  • http://joelmayward.blogspot.com Joel Mayward

    So there is a surgeon at #5 on the top list…and a doctor at #9 on the other list.

  • Diane S.

    So where does mother of teenagers fit in to this?! ;-)

  • Stephen Weaver

    @Ryan, yeah, huh? That’s a trend that has been documented for 200+ years (see, Thomas Howard’s, “God and the Atlantic”). Wife says I’m hi risk: bi-vocational pastor trained as an attorney, serving as an EVP over part of corporate sales …

  • http://www.bloodstainedink.wordpress.com Ryan

    @Stephen . . . I’ll pray for you. ;)

  • Mike M

    To “be psychopathic” or rather sociopathic, a person has to be able to separate his or her actions from those consequences that harm other people. I would probably put Human Resource directors at the top of the list. CEO’s come as no surprise: making money at any cost to employee well-being is taught in business school. Surgeons have to hurt first in order to get the job done which is what differentiates them from non-surgical physicians. But then there are the outliers like the physicians who directed the tortures at Guantanamo Bay.

  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com Howard Pepper

    I’d imagine the percentage differences are relatively small at each step though the difference between the top few and bottom few may be substantial. While I’d give the larger influence to “nature” (inborn traits or tendencies) that “nurture”, I do imagine that certain professions tend to reinforce or exacerbate a psychopathic style. Unfortunately, that includes running a company in too many cases.

    Fortunately, greater opportunity has recently been developing for companies to do well by doing good (accompanied by “socially responsible investing”); for non-profits to set up Benefit Corporations, for start-ups to get funding easier with “crowd funding”, etc. There IS change in the air in the business world which makes place for more CEO’s who are NOT psychopathic (and there are a lot already, of course).

  • Scott Gay

    What’s up Chad?

  • StephL

    Psychopaths, 1-6 anyway, are paid more than non-psychopaths, top 8 of that list at least.

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    The fact that a CEO is more likely to be a psychopath than a member of any other profession does not actually mean that a CEO is likely to be a psychopath.

    I haven’t seen the study’s numbers, but a fact pattern where 0.01% of CEOs were psychopaths, 0.001% of Care Aides were psychopaths, and everyone else fell in between could give you the same results.


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