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Psychopathic Personality Traits Linked With U.S. Presidential Success, Psychologists Suggest

Jacqueline Howard
Huffington Post [1]
Friday, September 14, 2012

Lack of guilt, fearlessness and interpersonal dominance — that may sound like a description of a high-powered executive or politician, but it’s actually a list of traits commonly found in psychopaths. According to new research, this similarity may not be a coincidence.

A team of researchers at Emory University in Atlanta recently found that the fearless dominance associated with psychopathy may predict presidential performance. The study was published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Certain psychopathic traits may be like a double-edged sword,” the study’s lead author Dr. Scott Lilienfeld, a psychologist at Emory, said in a written statement. “Fearless dominance, for example, may contribute to reckless criminality and violence, or to skillful leadership in the face of a crisis.”

The researchers compiled personality assessments of the 42 previous U.S. presidents — up to and including George W. Bush — using data from about 100 historical experts, such as biographers, journalists, and political scholars. Those personalities were compared with each president’s performance, and links began to emerge.

Full story here.