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Research findings: workplace psychopaths

Editor’s note: A master’s student from Carleton University in Ottowa, Canada, is researching psychopaths in the workplace. She invited Lovefraud readers to participate in her research, and many of you did. Below are her preliminary findings.

Backstabbing bosses and callous co-workers: An examination of the experience of working with a psychopath.

Very little research has been conducted on the phenomenon of corporate psychopathy or victims of psychopaths. This study was one of the first to take a victimcentric approach to study how psychopaths behave in a workplace.

The purpose of the study was to better understand the effects (mental, physical, financial, social) of working with an individual who possesses psychopathic traits. We also wanted to determine how psychopaths interact with their peers in a work environment.

Several research questions were created prior to data collection to help understand the experience of working with a psychopathic colleague. Based on these questions, we found:

1)     Emotional harm was the most common type of harm reported by participants, followed by physical consequences as a result of working with the psychopath, and financial harm.

2)     The psychopath most often used relational manipulation to harm their colleagues. This refers to any social means used to undermine or control the victim and included behaviours such as: lying, manipulation, deceit, spreading rumours, public humiliation and turning colleagues against one another.

3)     Most participants had a good first impression of the psychopath and described him or her as charismatic, outgoing, sociable, engaging, good looking, and articulate.

4)     Most participants suspected they worked with a psychopath after witnessing the psychopath interact with others in the workplace. Others knew their colleague was a psychopath after being victimized or researching the behaviours they observed.

5)     Most participants reported receiving support from their friends and family. Receiving support from work colleagues was the second most common source of support.

6)     Emotional support was the most common type of support received and other types of support included: tangible support, informational support, spiritual support, and financial support.

7)     Participants with psychopathic superiors have lower job satisfaction than participants with a psychopathic peer or subordinate.

8)     High rates of workplace bullying, perpetrated by the psychopath, were reported by study participants.

The findings revealed that the experience of working with a psychopath is negative and has the potential to be very emotionally harmful to victims. These findings have important implications for human resource personnel as they emphasize the consequences of employing an individual with psychopathic traits. Almost all survivors reported some level of harm due to their relationship with the psychopath, however, coping and support helped to alleviate some of the effects. The results highlight the heterogeneity present in the experiences of victims of corporate psychopaths.

I would like to thank you again for your participation and for bravely sharing your story.



32 Comments on "Research findings: workplace psychopaths"

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  1. Shelley says:

    Thanks all….Opalrose, Spathinator and ErinBrock…

    The irony is that I found Lovefraud almost 2 years ago when I was searching for info on workplace spaths. It helped me understand my last relationship. However, that didn’t help me from stepping right back into the sh**.

    And yes…like Truthspeak says…work has ceased to ‘be meaningful’ to me anymore. It isn’t that I don’t like the work..it’s that I’m detaching from the drama.

    As I’m going through this process with Human Rights…other spaths are coming out of the woodwork to throw spanners in the works…and it doesn’t matter..well, it does, but now it’s just part of the game and I’m more ready.

    Yes, Wok_chang, I had the same experience…at first denial from co-workers (and colluding in harrassment), but now…they aren’t in denial. I can’t trust any of them. Sad, but reality.

    It’s really sucked, but boy have I grown in the past months. At 50 – who would think?

    I hope a transfer works out…and if not, well, Tim Horton’s sounds good (even at 1/4 the pay)…but I’ll battle on..only because I truly don’t have an investment in the outcome anymore.

    Yes, Oxy, I saw that show too.

    And did anyone watch Dr. Phil (yuk)…promoting his new book about Life Rules. He calls them Baiters. OMG…call them what they are.

    Shelley



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  2. Shelley says:

    Oxy,

    I think for me the most shocking part of the show was the HR consultant who has written a book about the hidden antics of HR departments.

    It made me feel out of my depth in dealing with workplace abuse.

    Shelley



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  3. david says:

    This was a great read. My ex boss (friend) did all what was written here. But I am the only one who knows it. I didn’t know that My boss was a Sociopath intell after I was victimized and forced out after ten years. He has everyone fooled.The Emotional harm and the personal loss of time is something you can just pray to get over. He was a big game player, gasslighter, projection, lier, con man ect. I have read all your comments. This may not help much, but I understand what you are going through.



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  4. raised by sociopath says:

    All I can say this hits home. We have a godly conscience to guide and condemn us yet; s path’s conscience is from the evil one.



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  5. raised by sociopath says:

    S paths have problems respecting others boundaries plus share too much lying about themselves having miserable lives so we are off guard at what their true motive is. Just made a realization on my first work week. Deem to keep some distance from one.



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