Two separate studies offer insights for why your boss is such an abusive jerk. One says that corporate managers score higher than the average population on tests measuring psychopathy. The other reveals that bosses who make big bucks are much meaner to their employees compared to executives who aren’t earning astronomical salaries. So consider yourself a winner if your boss isn’t mean, a psychopath, or a mean psychopath.
Over at wsj.com/wealth, Robert Frank sums up the findings of a new research paper “When Executives Rake in Millions: Meanness in Organizations.” How do you judge meanness? It’s not like it would be possible to follow CEOs around and note every time he or she knocked employees’ books out of their hands or shoved interns into their lockers. (I’ve watched too many teen movies.) Here’s how the study was conducted:
They scored companies with “strength points” and “weakness points,” giving strength points to companies that offered employee profit sharing and deducting points for companies that had been penalized for employee mistreatment. The researchers then examined each company’s executive compensation and looked for any correlations between increasing income and increasing meanness.
They concluded that “higher income inequality between executives and ordinary workers results in executives perceiving themselves as being all-powerful and this perception of power leads them to maltreat rank and file workers.”