After watching a fairly engaging 2016 TEDx talk titled "Psychopaths and three reasons why we need them" I was hoping to read more systematic/traditional research output from its author, Armon Tamatea. But looking through his publications list I was rather disspointed there wasn't anything obvious since that talk. So, in my vague summary of the talk (I didn't take notes), he mentioned that psychopaths have some useful traits, including
- coolness under pressure
- being good at spotting vulnerabilities in people or organizations
- superficial charm that can oil the social machinery in many occasions
and probably some I've missed.
I see there's a pretty similar talk "Your Friendly Successful Psychopath", which makes reference to The Wisdom of Psychopaths, but I'm not familiar with the book... but a summary in The Guardian goes like:
Dutton's book at any rate supports the idea that to thrive a society needs its share of psychopaths – about 10%. It not only shows the value of the emotionally detached mind in bomb disposal but also the uses of the psychopath's ability to intuit anxiety as demonstrated by, for example, customs officials. Along the way his analysis tends to reinforce the idea that the chemistry of megalomania which characterises the psychopathic criminal mind is a close cousin to the set of traits often best rewarded by capitalism. Dutton draws on a 2005 study that compared the profiles of business leaders with those of hospitalised criminals to reveal that a number of psychopathic attributes were arguably more common in the boardroom than the padded cell: notably superficial charm, egocentricity, independence and restricted focus. The key difference was that the MBAs and CEOs were encouraged to exhibit these qualities in social rather than antisocial contexts.
Of the one more clearly identified research, the analogy with the CEOs sounds a bit doubtful to me in view of research of Fred Kiel finding the opposite being true, i.e. psychopathic-like CEO traits producing negative outcomes in business. So, yeah, I'm curious of the meta-analytical status of such claims, assuming there's enough research for review-like works.
Is there some systematic research that finds there [or other potentially desirable traits] are really more common in psychopaths? Of course for some of the traits one needs to ask "advantageous for who?" or "in what context?", because they may be advantageous in the short run for the self, but might harmful for society/others, so there may be negative consequences for the self in the long run as a result. So I'm guessing a more sophisticated question would be if there's some kind of evolutionary stable strategy that favors a percentage of psychopathic traits...