Do you have to be a psychopath to be in HR?

by Michael Haberman on August 6, 2013 · 2 comments


Is your CEO or lawyer a psychopath?  Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Is your CEO or lawyer a psychopath?
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

When someone says the word “psychopath” to you what image comes to mind? Ted Bundy, Hannibal Lector or Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining? A article I read gave the characteristics of psychopaths and the most likely profession in which you would find a psychopath. Naturally my first question was whether you have to be a psychopath to be in HR.

CharacteristicsThe article Which Professions Have The Most Psychopaths?, published in PsyBlog, listed the characteristics that are common to psychopaths. These include:

  • Self-confident
  • Cold-hearted
  • Manipulative
  • Fearless
  • Charming
  • Cool under pressure
  • Egocentric
  • Carefree

This actually sounds like a pretty good list, for the most part. Some people may not be thrilled with the manipulative part and cold-hearted, but the rest of it sounds pretty good, at least to me. This list sounds like what is would take to be successful in many professions.

It turns out however, according to the article, that there are few successful psychopaths. As the article says “…research has found that psychopaths generally do worse at the things that are often associated with success: their relationships are worse, they earn less money and do not generally attain high status.”


So what professions are on the list? According to PsyBlog these professions are:

  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 authors are quick to point out that just because someone is in one of these jobs does not mean they are a psychopath. As they say “Rather, there is an overlap between psychopathic personality traits and the types of people who go into those professions.” There is a good chance if someone is successful in what they do they have some of the better traits, but they are not a psychopath.

Where is HR?

You will probably notice to your relief that human resources professional is not on this list. That doesn’t mean that there are not people in the profession that don’t exhibit some of these traits. Personally I would like to be known for some of these and I know others who definitely have some of these traits. What about you?

But to answer the question asked in the title Do you have to be a psychopath to be in HR? the answer is NO. But it does help to be crazy!

Share your favorite “psychopath” story with us.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

the-one November 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm

HR managers are psychopaths. I’ve encountered a few and it was never fun dealing with them.


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