Researchers from Binghamton University claim to have developed a computerised content-analysis tool that reliably and validly measured narcissistic and psychopathic traits in leaders of Fortune 100 companies.

The analysis programme employs a built-in dictionary of words, phrases and rules that can be used to help predict certain negative personality traits.

The study's co-author William Spangler, an associate professor in the School of Management at Binghamton, said the programme first looks for self-focus words, such as "I," "me," "my," "mine" and "myself." It then looks for words related to several personality traits.

"For example, one form of narcissism, called confident of grandiose narcissism depends on extraversion, so the programme looks for words indicating exaggeration, confidence, enthusiasm, and energy," Spangler told 'BusinessNewsDaily'.

"Another statistical programme combines the self-focus words with the extraversion words to produce a measure of extraverted or grandiose narcissism," he said.

Spangler said the content analysis programme also looks for words related to neuroticism, like doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, errors and mistakes, and combines those with the self-focus words to create a measure of defensive narcissism.

"Narcissism and psychopathy are aspects of maladaptive personality which can have a serious impact upon individuals and those with whom they interact," Spangler said.

"These characteristics affect the decisions leaders make, their relations with others, as well as the productivity and culture of their organisations," he said.

Researchers used the programme to analyse nearly 1,800 publicly available transcripts of television interviews and conference calls with stock analysts, as well as print interviews from 150 CEOs from Fortune 100 companies.

"Perhaps the ultimate use of this research may be to encourage boards of directors making hiring decisions, particularly CEOs, to look closely at candidates' personality characteristics, including traits of psychopathy, grandiose narcissism and covert or defensive narcissism, as well as other information, such as track records," Spangler said.

"This study found there is a reliable and valid way to measure these personality tendencies," he said.


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