Psychopaths much like entrepreneurs: study

Sir Richard Branson. Photo / NZH
Sir Richard Branson. Photo / NZH

Charles Manson and Richard Branson may have more in common than rhyming surnames and big hair.

New research from the Australian School of Business at the University of NSW suggests that psychopathic tendencies can also make for good entrepreneurs.

"Psychopaths commit an offence, go to prison, then come out and commit the offence again, because they fail to learn from the prison experience," said PhD student Benjamin Walker.

"Our study showed the novel result is that participants high in entrepreneurial intentions showed the same pattern."

Psychopaths the like serial killer Charles Manson are born with temperamental differences that lead them to being risk seekers, impulsive and fearless.

These personality traits also allow a person to persist in risk-taking and succeed in business, the study found.

Assessing the results of 605 participants across three laboratory studies, Mr Walker and Professor of Business Psychology Chris Jackson found that people with either psychopathic or entrepreneurial intentions persisted through adversity in a risk-taking task.

"Even when the experimental conditions changed from rewarding to punishing, participants who were high in either psychopathic tendencies or entrepreneurial intentions continued to behave as if still rewarded," Mr Walker said.

He said it was no surprise that some entrepreneurs - such as Virgin founder Richard Branson - do adventure sports in their spare time.

"The personality traits of fearlessness and insensitivity to punishment lead entrepreneurs to jump off buildings - and that is why they may also be unafraid to start multiple businesses."

However, higher risk-taking can also increase losses - and that can be why so many entrepreneurs end up with a series of bankrupt ventures.

With this in mind, Mr Walker said the study suggested organisations should be careful who they promote to CEO level.

"It is important that the CEO is supported by more inhibited staff members to ensure appropriate risk-taking within a company."

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 21 Apr 2014 01:47:07 Processing Time: 524ms