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Your child could grow up to be a psychopath and that may not be a bad thing.

He or she just might wind up a CEO.

The hallowed halls of business have more than a fair share of successful psychopaths, many of them CEOs and top executives, research shows.

A recent wave of interest in testing children for psychopathy is shining a light on the biology and psychology of psychopaths. University of Pennsylvania criminologist and psychopathy expert Adrian Raine believes medical tests might help determine whether a child will be a psychopath when he or she grows up.

But that doesn't mean he or she will end up a serial killer or in prison. It could be the corner office for them instead - the incidence of psychopathy in the business world is four times that of the general population, according to a recent report.

Psychopathy is a grouping of personality characteristics including glibness, manipulation, callousness, lack of emotion, irresponsibility, impulsivity and aggression.

Earlier this year an article in CFA Magazine by Sherree DeCovny stated an estimated 10 per cent of people in the financial services industry are psychopaths.


Robert Hare, the University of British Columbia expert on psychopathy she quoted, posted a statement on his website following the furor that resulted from DeCovny's piece.

"As things stand, we do not know the prevalence of psychopathy among those who work on Wall Street," he wrote. "It may be even higher than ten per cent, on the assumption that psychopathic entrepreneurs and risk-takers tend to gravitate toward financial watering-holes, particularly those that are enormously lucrative and poorly regulated. But, until the research has been conducted, we are left with anecdotal evidence and widespread speculation."

A 2010 study by Hare and colleagues found that four per cent of a sample of 203 corporate professionals met a clinical threshold for being described as psychopaths.

The prevalence in the general population is about one per cent.

It's long been known that a segment of top executives and CEOs in the mainstream workforce can have psychopathic personality traits. A 2009 article by Joseph P Cangemi and William Pfohl called "Sociopaths in High Places" featured seven individuals with psychopathic personalities in leadership roles, among them a Fortune 500 executive, a university professor and a venture capitalist.

Gao and Raine caution that limited literature on non-incarcerated psychopaths have produced mixed feelings among researchers.