The need for domination in psychopathic leadership: A clarification for the estimated high prevalence of psychopathic leaders

Désiré Palmen*, E.W. Kolthoff, Jan Derksen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In this article we hypothesize that psychopathic leaders may be attracted to positions of power because in such environments they can fulfill their need for domination and control over other people. Although social dominance is a well-established trait in psychopathy, social dominance as a motivational factor in those high in psychopathy has received surprisingly little attention in literature and research. In this article we propose that social dominance and dominance motivation may be part of the psychological profile of certain psychopathic subtypes, but not of others. Furthermore, the scarce theory and research on psychopathy and dominance motivation is reviewed. Finally, we will additionally analyze research on the different motivations between the larger group of the Dark Triad and propose new insights on the importance of the need for domination for those high in psychopathy in comparison to other fundamental life motivations. Based on these analyses we propose a clarification for the (estimated) high prevalence of psychopathic individuals in leadership positions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101650
Number of pages16
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Volume61
Issue number2021
Early online date25 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

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