British research suggests that up to 50 per cent of business managers could have psychopathic or similar tendencies.

The study carried out by the British Psychological Society says such managers are often articulate and confident, but can be unpredictable, self indulgent and lacking in empathy.

Psychology Professor Adrian Furnham says manipulative characteristics are often rewarded in the business world.

"Beware of the following individual, the good looking, educated, articulate and very bold and self confident leader," he said.

"If somebody says to you 'I can take this company to the next level' beware, it might be a manifestation of narcissism rather than ability."