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Forget Diplomacy — Candidates with Psychopathic Traits May Make Better Presidents

Bill Clinton
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

With the presidential election fewer than two months away and the outcome still very much in doubt, a new study has emerged claiming that the candidate with the most psychopathic traits might just be the best bet.

While purposely electing a stark raving mad person leader of the free world might sound like a disaster, researchers from Emory University say that not all psychopaths are criminally insane, cold-blooded killing machines, despite what the movies tell us. In fact, researchers say that many of the most highly revered American presidents displayed psychopathic characteristics, such as fearless dominance, that likely made them better leaders, more persuasive and more able to handle crisis situations.

After analyzing the personalities of 42 presidents using more than 100 leading expert sources, researchers discovered that Theodore Roosevelt heads the presidential pack in fearless dominance, followed by John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Rutherford B. Hayes, Zachary Taylor, Bill Clinton, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson and George W. Bush.

Many clinical psychologists classify psychopaths as possessing self-centered impulsivity, superficial charm, guiltlessness, callousness, dishonesty and immunity to anxiety. However, the Emory study’s researchers say, “certain psychopathic traits may be like a double-edged sword,” contributing either to reckless criminal activity or masterful leadership. These traits exist, to varying degrees, within all of us.

“You can think of it like height and weight,” said the study’s lead author, Scott Lilienfeld. “Everyone has some degree of both, and they’re continuously distributed in the population.”

Researchers believe this study offers insights as to how some facets of the psychopathic mind can actually have a positive impact on society.

[Medical Daily]

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