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Could Testing Block Psychopaths From Senior Management?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the self-aggrandizing-liars-with-golden-parachutes dept.

Businesses 422

Freshly Exhumed writes "Dr. Clive Boddy believes that increasingly fluid corporate career paths have helped psychopaths conceal their disruptive workplace behavior and ascend to previously unattainable levels of authority. Boddy points out psychopaths are primarily attracted to money, status and power, currently found in unparalleled abundance in the global banking sector. As if to prove the point, many of the world's money traders self identify as the "masters of the universe." Solution? Screening with psychological tests. Who would pay for it? The insurance industry." The tech world has plenty of company heads who've been called psychopaths, too — but would you want to actually change that?

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First Motherfuckers! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068489)

First Motherfuckers!

Re:First Motherfuckers! (-1, Offtopic)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#42068533)

Parent has failed the test.

No universe for you!

could be usefull for other things (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068503)

Would be great to see such a test for forum or internet users. Imagine how useful youtube comments would be if the psychopaths couldn't register.

Re:could be usefull for other things (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068549)

But stupid people would still post

New Card. What do you think? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068505)

Picked them up from the printer's yesterday. That's Bone. Lettering is something called Cillian rail.

Re:New Card. What do you think? (0)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#42068961)

Only works for Americans

Just another way to bash someone's success (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068509)

Just another way to bash someone's success

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42068535)

Or in a less knee-jerk way: have we verified that this is actually a problem? What issues arise from psychopaths being in these positions of authority? Is there a way we can mitigate those negative effects while still playing to the strengths of the psychopath?

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068617)

Hell yes, this is a problem. Watch The Corporation. It basically shows that most corporations are psychopathic, and I believe that most governments are too. This is fundamentally at odds with our basic notion that people in charge should have some sort of human decency. If the majority of us have empathy but are ruled by psychopaths without empathy, this is a very very serious problem...especially when many people will go ahead and assume that the people in authority have empathy.

Basically the people who have the most say on how this world operates (including whether to wage war, take people's money, pollute the environment or not) are often (or mostly, depending on your point of view) behaving like psychopaths. This is nuts and it really goes a long way towards explaining the current state of affairs.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (4, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | about 2 years ago | (#42068827)

and I believe that most governments are too.

Actually one of the main properties of the welfare state a la Europe is that is not sociopathic,

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#42068929)

"If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with"

Even psychopaths (more correctly, sociopaths, as noted below. They have no 'organic' cause for their 'disease') might be empathic. As an individual, surrounded by 'normal' people, they also may seem to be normal and share the same feeling as the group. But with the 'wrong crowd', watch out. Group think, peer pressure, whatever you want to call it, is very powerful. Authoritarians are professional chameleons in this respect. Good parents are very watchful of the kind of company their children keep. It starts there.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (4, Insightful)

MrLizard (95131) | about 2 years ago | (#42068945)

Actually, I would say that a society ruled by "empathy" would quickly collapse, as the people in charge would be unable to make decisions based on an objective cost/benefit analysis, but instead would be paralyzed by emotional concerns. It's a common cliche that "you can't put a price on human life", but every modern society does, constantly, and if a society's leaders can't do this, the society will fail.

To use a highly oversimplified example: Let's assume that we can prevent 50% of automobile related deaths by imposing a regulation that increases the cost of a car by $1.00. Most people would say that would be worthwhile. To prevent 50% of the remaining deaths, we can increase the cost of a car by $100.00. To prevent 50% of the remaining deaths (this report was commissioned by Zeno, by the way), the cost increases by $1000.00. And so on. There is a point where someone must say, "Yeah, the harm done by increasing costs that much outweighs the value of the lives saved." An "empathic" person would be unable to draw that line, as he'd be unable to say "Some known percentage of people will die in accidents, people who COULD have been saved if we'd spent more money." This carries across many different fields and areas of human activity, from drug trials to engineering. There's a point where some level of risk must be deemed "acceptable". The more empathic someone is, the more difficult it will be for them to consciously allow a certain number of probable deaths or injuries.

Emotions are easy to manipulate. I show you (generic you, not you personally) a bunch of pictures, along with heart-wrenching stories, of Palestinean children killed by Israeli bombs. "How can we support such murderers?", you ask. Then I show you heart-wrenching stories of Israeli children killed by Palestinean bombs. "We have to protect these people!", you cry. If your decision is based on how much you CARE, you can't make a decision. You have to step back and evaluate which side, if either, is more useful to support for reasons totally irrelevant to how many children are getting killed. You have to reduce people to numbers and statistics -- or you can't decide, and meanwhile, even more people die while you waffle.

More abstractly, there will always be more problems than there are resources to solve them. Someone has to decide whose suffering to alleviate, and whose to ignore. People who are too empathic can't; at best, they'll make decisions based on whichever crisis is most heart-touching to them (usually determined by which one has the best propaganda), not on other considerations.

Most of our society, at all levels, can only function if we set aside our feelings and focus on facts. An umpire shouldn't make calls based on which team he wants to win, even if his motivation is sympathy for the feelings of the team that keeps losing all the time. A boss shouldn't fire or hire people based on who he likes more, but on job performance. We disdain those who show favoritism to friends and relatives, but it is psychologically normal to be more sympathetic to those closest to you. It is psychologically *abnormal* to make decisions without regard to your emotional connections to people -- but people in power are expected, even required by law, to do precisely that, to decide things without consulting their feelings.

Thus, it is inevitable that those with the least empathy will rise to positions of power, because those with the most can't do the job.

(I've run into a depressing number of people who are convinced this is not the way the world is; that if only we all CARED enough, there'd never be a need for hard decisions, because everyone would just do the right thing, all the time.)

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (5, Informative)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 2 years ago | (#42068651)

Or in a less knee-jerk way: have we verified that this is actually a problem? What issues arise from psychopaths being in these positions of authority? Is there a way we can mitigate those negative effects while still playing to the strengths of the psychopath?

The characteristic lack of remorse or shame leads psychopaths to a fervent belief that "rules are for other people".

This results in catastrophes like the recent Banking/Finance issues in the US and the recent "rogue trader" excesses (UBS, and others).

"It's only against the law if you get caught" is a prime Directive of psychopaths.

And yet somehow you think there's ANY reason we want these people running anything?

Seriously folks, their behaviour is classed as antisocial for a reason, read the words - ANTI SOCIAL.

By Definition BAD FOR THE ENTIRE SOCIETY.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#42068745)

I don't know why there is this perception that psychopaths, or more properly sociopaths, are some kind of aliens among us. Why does anyone think that perfectly normal people can't behave in a similar fashion? After all, power corrupts.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068755)

As long as the Shareholders make money this quarter THEY dont care if its Jack the Ripper at the com.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42068861)

Seriously folks, their behaviour is classed as antisocial for a reason, read the words - ANTI SOCIAL.

By Definition BAD FOR THE ENTIRE SOCIETY.

That is NOT the defintion of antisocial. It is not necessarily bad for society. There was an article [economist.com] in the Economist that describes a study that found that people with cold emotional detachment are exactly who should be running things.

This is especially apparent in military leaders. In the American Civil war, leaders like McClellan and Meade were known for their compassion and concern for the welfare of their troops. But hundreds of thousands died unnecessarily because they failed to push for a decisive victory early in the war. More emotionally detached generals like Grant and Stonewall Jackson were far more effective.

How many allied troops died in Normandy due to Monty's dithering? Meanwhile "blood and guts" Patton was encircling 40,000 Nazi troops at Falaise.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#42068901)

"rules are for other people".
"It's only against the law if you get caught"

I fear for the mental health of the Slashdot poster!

In tissue-thin disguise, you can hear these same sentiments being expressed in many a post about a geek's encounter with the law.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#42068817)

What issues arise from psychopaths being in these positions of authority?

I watched one completely destroy the IT department I worked at a few jobs ago.

Dude was the passive-aggressive kind of putz. His first act as head of IT was to dig up (and in some cases invent) things to formally write-up everyone that he perceived as a threat to his authority. His next step was to rip out carefully-laid and in-progress projects and start re-wiring them to align with his goals (goals which, curiously enough, we were never really informed of aside from a bunch of acronyms. That said, we were already doing such things as ITIL and PCI compliance, among others... apparently he had other plans). The worst part is, he tried to pretend that he had the same skills... in spite of periodically destroying his laptop (malware aplenty) and once turning an Oracle DB testbed into mush, then blaming the DBA for it (VM snapshots are beautiful things...) I won't even begin to describe how much money this guy blew off into the ether on unneeded and unnecessary consultants, equipment, and worse.

Most of us began quitting in droves as better opportunities arose - myself included. Out of the original crew, only one stayed behind, and I think she only stayed to finish off the tuition reimbursement program that the company once had.

They eventually pushed him out (according to his LinkedIn profile, he's been "exploring opportunities" since earlier this year.) Too late though, I think... the company has been suffering pretty hard due to cost overruns and the increasing amount of bork-ups in its manufacturing automation (guess why...) I'm not really sure if they'll survive due to a market sector that's going to crap plus a rotten economy overall. We're talking about fuck-ups that will likely push 1500 people in the local area to the unemployment line if they collapse.

Long story short? Be damned careful who you pick to sling around the expensive and important parts of your company. A more competent and less ass-hatted IT leader would have kept costs lower, kept an eye on what's truly important, listened to the warnings and rational dissent from his reports, and not driven away the critical staff that built and knew the damned thing in the first place.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42068971)

There was this housing bubble thingy popping and a bunch of people foreclosed on, perhaps you heard about it.

Then there was that time they spilled all the oil in the Gulf. I think that got a mention or two.

Going back a way, there was that whole Wall Street love affair with 'chainsaw Al' until they realized that he was just as willing to cook the books to make his bonus as he was to fire half a company and collect their pay as his personal bonus.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068555)

Want to get Gattaca past slashdot malcontents without inducing privacy hysteria? Target the rich.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

Millennium (2451) | about 2 years ago | (#42068599)

This. Could it not be considered medical discrimination?

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

ameline (771895) | about 2 years ago | (#42068661)

Yes, it could definitely be considered discrimination on the basis of a medical condition or disability.

Cue the A.D.A.

:-)

(Got karma to burn today, so I feel ok with posting this little nugget of flame-bait :-) )

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42068771)

Just come up with a 'reasonable accomodation' that will allow a sociopath to exercise a position of power and discretion without dangerous fuckups, and we'll talk...

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | about 2 years ago | (#42068803)

This. Could it not be considered medical discrimination?

First we need to decide whether or not they fit a socially acceptable* definition of "human".

*Socially acceptable as in does not harm the rest of society.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42068613)

To some extent, perhaps, though a lot of what went on in Wall Street leading up to the crash could only be considered success providing the insanely hideous effects on 99.9% of the population were discounted. The difference between a sociopath and a normal person is that a normal person possesses empathy, and empathy means that they will at least make a small effort to weigh personal benefit against benefit to their fellowman (including, but not limited to investors), whereas a sociopath/psychopath is in it for the thrills and power, and will happily drive the institution they're in charge of into a brick wall if there is immediate short term benefit to themselves.

There's no denying there is a place for insane risk takers, but as Captains of Industry (or whatever they're called these days), not so much.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#42068751)

"I didn't say you could sit down!"
    -- Insane alpha monkey on stage, after chanting "Developers!"

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (2)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | about 2 years ago | (#42068957)

The difference between a sociopath and a normal person is that a normal person possesses empathy, and empathy means that they will at least make a small effort to weigh personal benefit against benefit to their fellowman.

What about those with Aspergers? One of the original diagnostic criteria for Aspergers is a lack of empathy. [nih.gov] Same goes for Autism too. [wikipedia.org] Shall we ban these people from management?

Or perhaps we should just accept that individual choices can allow people to overcome any lack of anything? Empathy or not, everyone has a chance to be a good human being. We're getting dangerously close to labelling people here not based on actions or life choices but simply a pre-determined judgement that can be made at a young age.

Re:Just another way to bash someone's success (1)

dumcob (2595259) | about 2 years ago | (#42069013)

The Wall Street meltdown or the Silicon Valley bubble were not created by psychopaths and antisocials but by the herd mentality. As all bubbles are. People who work for psychopaths leave and fast. Especially true of smart people who can find work anywhere. Both Wall Street and Sillicon Valley are filled with smart people and no dearth of opportunities. What even smart people aren't immune to is peer pressure. Once the herd starts running in one direction however smart you may be it has an effect.

They also run for political office... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068517)

Just note the current administration. When we are losing our countrymen to a bunch of crazy radicals, they go off campaigning in Las Vegas. Then when people ask them about it, they duck and cover and say they are conducting their own investigation. So much for "the most transparent administration in history...."

Re:They also run for political office... (2, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42068559)

As a European, it's hilarious that Americans think their center-right government is made up of "crazy radicals".

Re:They also run for political office... (4, Interesting)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | about 2 years ago | (#42068591)

As a Canadian, It's terrifying that Americans think their center-right government is made up of "crazy radicals".

Re:They also run for political office... (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#42068695)

As an American, I don't believe "Europe" and "Canada" are real places. I read about it on Snopes or someplace.

Re:They also run for political office... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068769)

Unlikley. Americans don't read. If you think you heard about it, It must have been on TV.

Re:They also run for political office... (2)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | about 2 years ago | (#42069041)

not only that, he drives a '93 escort wagon... a GERMAN car. either a caumuenist, a ferner, or a libral for sure.

Truly Terrifying (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#42068781)

Indeed it is terrifying - it's clear that their spelling is already invading Canada. We already seem to have lost our centre, we'll soon be colourless and before you know it Thanksgiving will be in November.

Re:They also run for political office... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068731)

um, i don't think any americans think the government overall is crazy or radical, it's mostly the super conservative section of the right wing which took precedence throughout the news this past year. those people actually ARE crazy radicals, as far as american politics goes. which is what we're talking about here ... just because they're not as extreme as stalin or someone like that doesn't make them not radical when compared against contemporary american politics.

Re:They also run for political office... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068579)

Fuck you racist faggot. The whites always have to do whatever they can to fuck a negro. Now we're on top and you got the dick in your ass. The American people have spoken and we're here to stay. Learn to like us fucking your wives, sisters and daughters. We're hear to stay.

Re:They also run for political office... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068675)

Actually my sister is dating a black guy. He is a pretty nice guy, but there is no way I'll let him fuck my wife.

Re:They also run for political office... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068785)

cant blame you for wanting to fuck white women old bean , we have all seen the articles on how even black men dont even want to fuck black women.

Transparency (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#42068735)

...they go off campaigning in Las Vegas. Then when people ask them about it, they duck and cover and say they are conducting their own investigation. So much for "the most transparent administration in history...."

Well you saw through them didn't you?

First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068519)

Finally, First... After all these years of trying, I've managed to get it.

So we don't want people to take chances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068521)

So we don't want people to take chances, I guess we should throw away half the inventions we have today.

Well, as long as the summary is trolling (3, Interesting)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#42068529)

it should probably pick less karma-whore targets for it. First of all, investment banks and insurance companies are indistinguishable. They are essentially in the same business. But to answer the actual question, why wouldn't you want a banker to be attracted to money? Not everyone should be socially conscious as a job requirement. Only if it is in fact part of the job. I mean I wouldn't want a nurse or doctor who were sociopaths. But a banker? Why not? If it makes them better bankers, then more power to them.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (2)

Millennium (2451) | about 2 years ago | (#42068573)

Actually, a surprising number of doctors are psychopaths, especially surgeons. Emotional detachment and all that.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068799)

[citation needed]

Or, if you want another way of putting it.

BULLSHIT

To be a Doctor or surgeon requires years of dedicated study and work. That's not a feature of psychopathy - quite the opposite. Psychopaths are pathetic individuals who thrive only in the most superficial quick win environments where chancers and spivs can make it big by spinning the wheel.

So many people seem to think emotional control = psychopath. Quite the contrary... psychopaths have very poor emotional control as well as concentration... they are also have extremely poor impulse control. In any environment where you have to deal with people over long periods... they fail horribly by getting caught out eventually. They only succeed when they can wreck their havoc and then vanish up/out leaving others to clean up.

Go speak to a real psychopath sometime.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#42068823)

Actually, a surprising number of doctors are psychopaths, especially surgeons. Emotional detachment and all that.

Emotional detachment is what you should be looking for when you are seeking professional advice. You need someone who will tell what you need to know, not what you want to hear.

Case in point, Steve Jobs.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (4, Interesting)

Zironic (1112127) | about 2 years ago | (#42068577)

The point is that it doesn't make them better bankers. Specifically a psychopathic banker will instead of help you make more money, help your money get into his pocket.

The problem isn't their attraction to money, it's their medical inability to give a shit about anyone else.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#42068629)

The problem isn't their attraction to money, it's their medical inability to give a shit about anyone else.

But does that make them worse bankers? You can structure incentives in such a way that in order to help themselves they have to help the bank's clients. My point is that this "article" falls in the trap which is common nowadays -- failing to separate function from the form. Most trading nowadays is done by computers. They, too, don't give a crap about anyone else. But so what? They are good traders. Rather than requiring that only extreme extroverts rise to the top (which is really what this movement seem to be about), why not concentrate on structural changes which realign motives through changing incentives? Oh, I know why. Because the authors don't know shit about management. It's written by psychologists who are essentially seeking to expand employment reasons for psychologists.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42068671)

Can you structure things in that fashion. One of the attractions of the entire industry is the promise of reward for sound investing. The problem is that a psychopath can game the system by achieving the reward through carefully constructed investments that will collapse inevitably, but after the reward has been gained. In some cases, those rewards appear to have been gained simply by lying (various iterations of cooking the books), and thus catching the cooking takes longer than the reward cycle.

The only way I can see it is to push the reward off into the distance by years, so that whatever investment strategy is made today, the guy doing it will have to wait a year, two years, or even more before they get their reward.

Even where systems like that have been implemented (ie. paid in shares rather than in cash or perks), it seems there are still ways for a sufficiently nasty person to grasp the reward that ultimately they did not deserve.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (2)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#42068723)

The problem is that a psychopath can game the system by achieving the reward through carefully constructed investments that will collapse inevitably, but after the reward has been gained. In some cases, those rewards appear to have been gained simply by lying (various iterations of cooking the books), and thus catching the cooking takes longer than the reward cycle.

Then the system is badly designed. Increase the reward cycle. Everyone employed is familiar with vesting rewards. Those are there to promote employment longevity. So you can't tell me no such mechanisms exist. If the system is designed for chasing short-term gains, don't expect psychologists to fix it. Change the system.

Even where systems like that have been implemented (ie. paid in shares rather than in cash or perks), it seems there are still ways for a sufficiently nasty person to grasp the reward that ultimately they did not deserve.

Ok, so something is broken. Fix it. But psycho tests? Those are appropriate only when people might be ask to receive no reward for their work (for example because their work requires risking their lives).

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (3, Interesting)

CFTM (513264) | about 2 years ago | (#42068821)

I don't disagree with your assessment but it's not nearly as easy as you make it out to be; otherwise no organization would have incentives that rewarded behavior that was not desired.

To your point though, you get what you reward...building the right system is not easy.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068849)

Naive much?

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (1)

Squiggle (8721) | about 2 years ago | (#42068891)

The problem is that in any system, regardless of the incentives for actions that benefit everyone, the psychopaths will always look for other ways to gain only for themselves. Two things will happen: they will find an exploit or they will misunderstand how to gain the most from the working system and instead gain less but harm others.

I thnk we'll need to come to grips with psychopathy and other mental conditions in the same way we've done for physical disabilities. We want to provide access to the good things in life, but we don't want people with disabilities to put others in danger. The example in the article of no blind pilots is quite apt. No psychopathic leaders seems sensible, the trouble being the measuring of the psychopathy.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068931)

Bwhahaha. Yeah, because all of humanity's biggest advancements can be attributed to "the system", and not the ingenuity and well-intensined planning by the few.

Wake up, "the system" is burning the planet. We just haven't got a taste of it ourselves yet, but the cliff is coming fast.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42068627)

The problem here is that an investment banker, for instance, should be in the game not only for personal reward, but also to help their clients. There is considerable opportunity for an investment banker to further their own enrichment that will do substantial harm to their clients.

Greed is good. Greed unmoderated by any sense of responsibility to anyone but one's self is not a good thing.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068683)

To me this says more about the financial system than about psychopaths. Why is the system not structured in such a way that one is naturally rewarded for helping their clients? Why aren't we changing this right now?

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (0)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#42068753)

Actually, I am not even sure I buy that premise. The current financial situation is 100% the fault of the government. So it's hard to make the argument that bankers were guilty of anything. Sometimes different customers have different needs. So you can tell customer A that they need to buy rainy day insurance (because they own a fleet of trucks) and tell a customer B that they need to buy a it's-not-going-to-rain insurance (because they own a farm). So bankers could be made look like psychopaths because they tell customer A that a product is good and customer B that the opposite product is good. But they are doing their job in both cases. Government, however, has no accountability. Given the last election, not even to the voters.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42069005)

Bankers paid for the politics though.

Captcha: checks

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#42068685)

Greed unmoderated by any sense of responsibility to anyone but one's self is not a good thing.

That makes no sense. A is good. But only if A is not A. That's the gist of this argument. Bankers should understand banking. It's not their job to get in touch with their emotions. They are not playing bankers on TV. They are actually being bankers. If there is a need to change their job objectives in order to better serve bank's clients, you change the banker's incentive structure. You don't say they must first ask themselves what's the right thing to do. It's a job, for God's sake. It has as much to do with their "sense" of anything as a job of someone at McDonald's. They need to do some very narrowly-defined work and do it proficiently. Yes, even the high-level traders. The keystone of all efficient endeavors is specialization (because of limited human attention span). If their specialization needs to change somewhat because it has destructive incentives built it, ok change them. But don't expect them to second guess their job.

Traders are not harming their clients, but... (1)

abies (607076) | about 2 years ago | (#42068765)

Well, depends if you are talking about criminal activity. Yes, traders can earn their money by front trading and other dirty tricks, but generally, they are very well monitored and are NOT allowed to invest any personal money. Instead, they are given very good bonuses dependent on... guess what... how much money they have earned for their clients !

Reward and benefit of the clients is very closely coupled here - if you make profit, you get paid more, your clients gain more. There is no conflict of interests here.

Now, you have to differentiate between clients and clients. Or actually, 'our guys' and 'losers'. If you are stockholder of my company, you are 'our guy'. If you give you money for us to invest, you are also our guy. If you are person coming from the street looking to buy structured product, you are loser. Yes, officially you are our 'client', but thats just the name - you are the victim which will give the money to real clients.

I suppose that a lot of confusion comes from that. Think about it as a auction house. People putting antiques in auction house are clients. Auction house tries to sell antiques for maximum money, without worrying if they are worth that much, as long as anybody is willing to buy. People buying antiques are not clients - they are targets.

And there is a big difference between investment banking and insurance business - in insurance, EVERYBODY is a target to cheat at any cost.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (2)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 2 years ago | (#42068715)

If it makes them better bankers, then more power to them.

The problem with this statement is the core meaning of "better".

Better corporate-whore megacorp fat-cat greedy bastards or better-for-society in a "we can all make buckets of money and be happy if we play nicely" kind of way?

Not that I think companies should not make a profit.
Not that I think companies should not make LOTS of profit.

But when banks are crying about their massive costs one week (to justify fee increases) and then announcing RECORD PROFITS (in a never ending succession of record profit years) there's got to be something COMPLETELY WRONG.

When financial institutions can screw up SO BADLY that literally billions of dollars are needed to bail them out yet other industries or businesses just go bankrupt when they make bad decisions, there has to be something COMPLETELY WRONG.

And before you claim "we COULD NOT AFFORD to let them suffer the consequences", Iceland told their banks to go get stuffed when they asked for a government bailout and as a direct result are happily enjoying economic growth [washingtonsblog.com] .

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#42068789)

They bail out didn't happen because the bankers cried. No one gives a damn about the bankers. It happened because there is no logistics for such a bankruptcy. And due to interconnected nature of the system, without bankruptcy resolution, all debts governing the world finances would be defaulted on. If the logistics for bankruptcy existed, the banks would be forced to accept 70 cents on the dollar and move on. This has nothing to do with psychology. It has everything to do with the government's inability to handle a large scale bankruptcy proceeding... and this is a responsibility of the government.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (2)

suricatta (617778) | about 2 years ago | (#42068759)

This is why not. [wikipedia.org]

From the linked article - emplasis mine to illustrate my point:

The U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission reported its findings in January 2011. It concluded that "the crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels."

The regulations WERE the problem (0)

tbg58 (942837) | about 2 years ago | (#42068947)

The Community Reinvestment Act and other regulations pressured lenders to make mortgage loans available even to high risk lenders. The taxpayers would guarantee the loans. Next, opportunistic bankers began to push loans on people who were no creditworthy, and people who wanted to profit off of real estate appreciation used "creative financing" (interest only loans, variable interest loans with balloon payments, etc.) to buy much larger homes than they could afford, betting on continuing rise in values. This over-leveraging at both ends of the market - the bottom end and the top end, fed the crisis.

Next, investment bankers bundled together bunches of these junk loans, slapped a triple A rating on them, divided them into tranches, and sold them to investors who wanted to make a killing on mortgage-backed securities.

The Financial Crisis was a perfect storm: misguided good intentions and unintended consequences got the ball rolling, then greedy mortgage bankers, home buyers, and investment bankers, pretty much greed and malfeasance at every level, not just restricted to a single economic stratum, all set the Financial Crisis in motion. It became the whirlwind we are all reaping today.

Even this grossly over-simplified summary is probably too long-winded for today's attention spans. Sorry, but this sort of stuff can't be expressed in 140 characters or less.

Re:Well, as long as the summary is trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068899)

Why on earth would you want your bank to leverage into bankrupcy and then stealing people's money to cover up their mistakes while giving our record bonuses even years during financial collapse (2008)?

Banks were rock solid until regulation was taken away in order to make banks just another financial entity (Gods how greed make men morons).
Banks MUST be safe for a safe society. It shouldn't be rocket science (pun intended for Ehler-fans).

Captcha: treated

Block them? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068553)

No... I think they'd promote them. Just like now.

Change it? (3, Insightful)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 years ago | (#42068567)

Damn straight we want to change it. If companies are getting so big that they become "too big to fail" and governments would rather throw money at them then watch them collapse, then some other mechanism must be found to mitigate the destructive behaviour of higher-ups. I wouldn't care, if not for the fact that their screw ups can wreak massive amounts of havoc against innocent people.

Of course, this all depends on if the tests are actually reliable.

Re:Change it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068727)

The major problem with this is that they also need to test politicians, not just businessmen. So, this should include lawyers.

Re:Change it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068739)

Hang on, if the company is "too big to fail", why would the government need to throw money at them to prevent them from collapsing? They're too big to fail right? They should be fine.

Re:Change it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068833)

You are misrepresenting what is meant by "too big to fail". It is used to mean "too big to allow to fail, given its crucial place in the economy".

Re:Change it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068859)

I fear that you misunderstand for comic effect ....

Either that, or you are psychopath.

Re:Change it? (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 2 years ago | (#42068773)

Damn straight we want to change it. If companies are getting so big that they become "too big to fail" and governments would rather throw money at them then watch them collapse, then some other mechanism must be found to mitigate the destructive behaviour of higher-ups. I wouldn't care, if not for the fact that their screw ups can wreak massive amounts of havoc against innocent people.

Of course, this all depends on if the tests are actually reliable.

The thing I find most frustrating is the ABSOLUTE HYPOCRISY of these major finance industry institutions.

One second they LOUDLY AND PROUDLY talk up the benefits of THE FREE MARKET but the moment that FREE becomes FREE FALL they want ABSOLUTE GUARANTEES that there will be no actual consequences to their screwup.

It's called risk-vs-reward, sometimes you push the risk too far, and sometimes you get burned.
Survival of the fittest.
Darwinian Evolution.

Or did they not teach these overpaid psychopathic CEOs anything at school?

Psychology (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068597)

is a pseudoscience!

Re:Psychology (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about 2 years ago | (#42068711)

Wrong, it's a science, we are the pseudo-subjects.

Most of them are (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42068619)

There have been studies posted about on Slashdot that state a ridiculously high percentage of all CEOs have significant mental problems. I think it was close to 50%. They're definitely more driven than clock punchers with no real motivation. They better watch their ass for business owners like me though. I operate lean and mean in a customer centric way and are super motivated to take out my competition by simply doing better instead of just running the company with my balls as a status symbol and building a $50,000 fountain out front with my face on it, lol.

Re:Most of them are (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42068687)

You know that investment account your putting the proceeds of your success into. Well, a psychopath is probably administering it.

You may think you can win, but believe me, all you've done is remove one orifice their sticking their members into.

Test everyone (4, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about 2 years ago | (#42068625)

I've worked with enough people who are nuts to think that if we're going to test the leaders, we should test everyone and put the psychopaths out of the workplace entirely.

One bad person on a team can not only make life miserable, but ruin the work output of the team, drive away anyone competent and damage everyone else's careers when they're associated with the failed team's product.

Being a psychopath is also just a mental illness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068633)

Yes, it's a bad one. But we don't condemn somebody because he has no legs, or something...

Yes, that person won't be able to do a management job properly. But such a person needs to be cured too! If it's genetic, then with a gene therapy, if it's the environment, then fix that, if it's a mental trauma, a good primal / behavior combination therapy (with a very intense primal part) can absolutely fix that too. (If the therapist has the balls to go that intense.)

In other words: Being a psychopath doesn't make you a "second class citizen". It's a illness, just like any other.
It can make you unsuitable for jobs, just like any other. You can fix that, just like with any other.

(No, if you think and spread that outdated bullshit about "cannot be cured" or "needs jail and/or meds" or think those primitive idiots that call themselves "therapists" but actually never studied it, would be what psychotherapy is... then go fuck yourself.)

Some diseases mean you can't do some jobs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068717)

I'm a type 1 diabetic, which prohibits me from flying aircraft. Same thing for someone who is color blind. Is it because we're bad people? No, but it's been judged unsafe to others that we do these things. Psychopaths running corporations could also be deemed unsafe to others.

Why block psychopaths from senior management? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068637)

If they can do the job, you would be illegally discriminating against someone with a mental illness, and probably looking at a big fat lawsuit.

Hold them to the same standard as everyone else.

Admittedly, in investment banking the standard is:

- Do you make money for the firm?
- Did you get caught breaking the law?

Re:Why block psychopaths from senior management? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42068743)

Yes indeed. The fundamental problem is that these firms are themselves essentially sociopathic. It's little wonder they attract psychopaths.

Frankly, I think the best cure is one "man in black" in an isolated, sound proof cubicle with a direct line to the SEC in one hand and a machine gun in the other. When the call comes in, there goes the firm, psychopaths and all.

Re:Why block psychopaths from senior management? (1)

Squiggle (8721) | about 2 years ago | (#42068985)

Management requires empathy for others and an ability to be responsible to others, thus a psychopath cannot do the job.

If only my CEO (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about 2 years ago | (#42068657)

would take advice from the voices in his head then the money I spent building that transmitter was worth it.

This could have saved HP a lot of money (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 2 years ago | (#42068677)

... if it works of course.

Urine test would do (1)

rduke15 (721841) | about 2 years ago | (#42068701)

many of the world's money traders self identify as the "masters of the universe." Solution?

I would guess that 90% of these people became psychopaths because of cocaine abuse. A simple urine test would be much cheaper, and quite efficient...

kudos (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#42068705)

But good luck getting the head honcho to agree to put himself on the chopping block.

Many social solutions require cooperation from the same people they seek to oust.

psychopathic behavior (3, Insightful)

faustoc4 (2766155) | about 2 years ago | (#42068725)

The problem is in the system, not in the individuals, however the system gives incentives for psychopathic behavior

A Better Idea... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068741)

Screen politicians with psychological tests

Probably violates the ADA (1)

MrLizard (95131) | about 2 years ago | (#42068775)

Isn't it generally illegal, under the ADA, to discriminate on the basis of mental illness, unless it can be shown said illness directly hinders job performance? It seems to me that being a psychopath not only doesn't hinder job performance if you're a banker, it might make you better at it, in the same way being somewhat Asperger's tends to make you better at jobs in the technical field?

They'd ace the test anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068801)

As if psychopaths won't be able to ace those kind of tests. By definition they are very smart and adaptable. You don't need to "feel" right, you just need to know how one is supposed to answer

Scarlet Letter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068819)

This probably sounds all fine and dandy to the vast majority of the population, because they could never imagine in a million years that they'd ever be branded a psychopath.

But if such psychological screening becomes widespread and people do start being branded psychopaths, you can bet they're going to scream bloody murder!

Such widespread psychological screening is going to bring all the problems of IQ tests, DNA tests, and drug testing along with it.

There are going to be false positives, privacy issues, reputations ruined, etc. Right now there are some places that publish lists of sexual offenders and pedophiles in their neighborhood. There will probably be pressure to publish lists of people labeled psychopaths as well.

It might sound fine to you now, until you happen to be labeled a psychopath due to some psychological test you took. And then what recourse do you have? Could these tests be wrong? How much trust do you have in the people who design and administer them?

This could effectively be a scarlet letter that brands you for life, and results in ostracism from the society. Perhaps it will be well deserved, perhaps not. Who's to say?

I, for one, am not sure whether to welcome our new psychological overlords.

Real psychos, or Movie psychos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068825)

One of the main features of psychopathy is detached emotions.

If you go around killing folks without remorse, then you're pretty messed up in the head and a psycho as well. The movies like to use this form of being a psycho since he's so rare and exciting. This psycho is a jerk and needs councelling based on logical arguments; perhaps by studying Game Theory and statistics ("what are the odds that they meant to hurt me"). Forms of councelling where someone simply listens probably won't work since the psycho won't care that you care.

If you've managed to grow up well enough to control other symptoms of psychopathy, then detached emotions just becomes a useful tool to you. Perhaps you're better able to analyze a situation without clouded judgement. Perhaps you're better able to act out a role in a movie since you've likely been studying emotions and the roles people play since you were young. This is the type of psycho that who saves lives by the numbers, who cleans a mess even if it's not theirs, and who understands right from wrong just as well as anyone else. I meet these folks every day and see nothing wrong with that.

Our culture currently latches on to the psychopath tag as the root of all evil, but it would be nice if we got over it and stopped trying to turn them into the Bogeyman. Find something else to force fear into the news because this fad is getting old.

Two words: Larry Ellison (1)

tbg58 (942837) | about 2 years ago | (#42068845)

Nuff said.

"but would you want to actually change that?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068865)

Fuck. YES!

Complete horseshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068883)

Have you ever worked for a psychopath? I believe have. His name was Jackson. I know it's noble to think that you would catch psychopaths this way, but I know for a fact that Jackson's smart enough to pass most any psychopath test. And at best, he's only a B grade psychopath, in my opinion.

you know... (1)

MakersDirector (2767101) | about 2 years ago | (#42068889)

What is the definition of insanity?

Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

What's the definition of sanity?

Doing the same thing over and over again and getting different results.

SOA. It's sanity's organizational architecture....

Maybe it could, but is it fair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42068933)

Psychopaths are people too..

Companies do that now (3)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#42068935)

They test for psychopaths when selecting managers. How else would we get the psychopath managers we have now?

Legal? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#42068977)

Would this even be legal? Psychopathy is a recognized disease/disability if you test for it and use it to restrict caree path would that not be against the ADA?

Industry bias (1)

oxfletch (108699) | about 2 years ago | (#42068987)

Let me guess ... the submitter works in tech, not in banking?

Why is it OK for tech companies to be run by psychopaths, but not banking?

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