Think your co-worker’s a little nuts? Maybe it’s because California is No. 3 for psychopathy!
The ranking craze comes to psychology. A new study by Ryan Murphy of Southern Methodist University ranked the collective mental health of the contiguous 48 U.S. states and the District of Columbia by psychopathy.
Psychopaths are the pushy folks who are heavy on dishonesty, manipulation, and risk-taking while lacking guilt, empathy, and attachment. And this trait — much debated in psychology circles as either a personality disorder or mental illness — is most prevalent in the District of Columbia. The report noted: “psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere.”
Next in psychopathic density came Connecticut, California, New Jersey, and a New York-Wyoming tie. Lowest psychopathy? West Virginia, then Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Mexico.
California’s laid-back vibe may not jibe with these results, but remember a “charm” of the psychopathic mind is convincing others of a positive image.
Now, other pundits can debate the social meaning of this scientific discovery — how crime and/or urbanization factor in. I’ll stick to the dollars and cents. Namely, how California’s economy — notably its workforce — may be shaped by psychopathy.
Apparently, certain work is very prone to having more psychopaths — perhaps due to skills required or the comfort of being with like minds. Demand for that kind of worker can bring more psychopaths to a region.
Let’s look at the Top 10 psychopathic-leaning jobs: CEO, lawyer, media, salesperson, surgeon, journalist, police officer, clergyperson, chef, and civil servant. How many of you are nodding your head and thinking “sounds about right” to yourself? (Yes, I noted my own craft in the list!)
Conversely, the report also listed professions where you’re least likely to find psychopathic habit. Primarily, people-pleasing trades or assistance work: care aide, nurse, therapist, craftsperson, beautician/stylist, charity worker, teacher, creative artist, doctor, and accountant.
So, I wondered how California fared with these jobs and what that says about the state’s workplace psyche. I tossed into my trusty spreadsheet some employment data — with my best match possible for the professional niches — for these on-the-job psychopathic extremes.
Ponder how California’s employment patterns compare with national norms. In the 10 heavily psychopathic-leaning jobs, California had 9 percent more workers than the usual. Meanwhile, the combined level of low-psychopathy jobs was roughly on par with U.S. averages.
When it comes to pay, my spreadsheet strongly hints the California psychopath is well-rewarded.
California’s psychopathic-leaning jobs had an average annual wage of $127,000 vs. $52,000 for those working in niches where the disorder was typically limited.
Look at six-figures professions. Five of the 10 heavily psychopathic-leaning jobs paid $100,000 or more annually — surgeon ($229,340); CEO ($222,950); lawyer ($168,200); media, defined by me as producers and directors ($118,830); and police officer ($100,090).
Just two from the list of low-psychopathy work paid above that threshold: doctor, defined by me as family and general practitioners ($196,180); and nurse ($102,700).
Even the lowest-paid of these psychopathic extremes favored those most likely to have the trait: Civil servants, defined by me as municipal clerks, got $47,270 vs. personal care aides earning $26,220.
You’ve probably heard that the gap between genius and madness can be small. In California, paychecks can’t seem to tell the difference.
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