Political partisans delight in labeling opposition leaders as malign or even psychopathic — but it turns out that U.S. presidents with high levels of certain psychopathic traits may actually do better on the job, no matter what their party affiliation, according to new research.
The study, which was based on presidential performance ratings and personality assessments by hundreds of historians and biographers in several different surveys, found that one psychopathic characteristic in particular was linked to success in presidency: fearless dominance.
“An easy way to think about it is as a combination of physical and social fearlessness,” says Scott Lilienfeld, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at Emory University. “People high in boldness don’t have a lot of apprehension about either physical or social things that would scare the rest of us.”
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