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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Will Your New Boss Be a Jerk? New Computer Program Can Tell

jerk, boss, algorithm, personality test
New software can predict whether an executive will have narcissistic tendencies. / Credit: Jerk image via Shutterstock

If only they'd known then what they know now. It's the lament of many hiring managers and Boards of Directors who discover, too late, that the new executive has some major personality problems. Now, it might be possible to figure out out before it's too late.

A team of researchers at Binghamton University claims it has developed a computerized content-analysis tool that reliably and validly measures narcissistic and psychopathic traits in leaders of Fortune 100 companies. The analysis program 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 program first looks for self-focus words, such as "I," "me," "my," "mine" and "myself." It then looks for words related to several personality traits. [10 Personality Types Most Likely to Get Hired]

"For example, one form of narcissism, called confident of grandiose narcissism depends on extraversion, so the program looks for words indicating exaggeration, confidence, enthusiasm, and energy," Spangler told BusinessNewsDaily. "Another statistical program combines the self-focus words with the extraversion words to produce a measure of extraverted or grandiose narcissism."

Spangler said the content analysis program 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.

He added that the psychopathy measure is a combination of self-focus and dominance/aggression words (military words, winning, fighting, male words, violence, etc.).

"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 organizations."

As part of the study, researchers used the program to analyze 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."

The study is scheduled to be presented at the 29th annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Honolulu this May.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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