A list of the occupations most likely to attract psychopaths -- which spread around last week -- consists of interesting observations, but not clinical diagnoses.
The list is making the rounds: CEOs, lawyers, and people in the media are the most likely to be psychopaths. Ranking in at sixth are journalists, a nugget that MediaBistro latched on to last weekend.
It was hard not to detect just a little bit of pride in the post and in the hordes of journalists who Tweeted the headline, "Journalism is Among Top 10 Occupations Most Likely to Attract Psychopaths."
It's a fun read, and will surely launch a thousand debates over why surgeons are likely to be psychopaths while doctors are likely not to be, along with some uneasy feelings about what police officers and clergypeople are doing on the list. It's also a great bit of viral marketing for psychologist Kevin Dutton, of the University of Oxford, who developed the list for his book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success. (There's one more for you, Kev.)
A few caveats are in order, though. First of all, the results come from what Dutton touts as the "Great British Psychopath Survey," which he hosted on his personal website. So, not the most formal of methodologies. I asked him about it, and he told me he received about 5,500 respondents. A sizeable sample, but keep in mind that most (probably) weren't actual psychopaths -- they just scored high for a number of traits that, in their extreme, are associated with psychopathy.