Moral Emotions and Corporate Psychopathy: A Review

Abstract

While psychopathy research has been growing for decades, a relatively new area of research is corporate psychopathy. Corporate psychopaths are simply psychopaths working in organizational settings. They may be attracted to the financial, power, and status gains available in senior positions and can cause considerable damage within these roles from a manipulative interpersonal style to large-scale fraud. Based upon prior studies, we analyze psychopathy research pertaining to 23 moral emotions classified according to functional quality (positive vs. negative signal) and target (self vs. other). Based upon our review, we suggest that psychopaths are high in moral emotions associated with other-directed negative signals, low in self-directed negative signals, and low in other-directed positive signals. We found no empirical articles related to self-directed positive signals. This understanding of the specific moral emotion deficits of corporate psychopaths provides greater theoretical understanding and practical implications of knowing which individuals not to promote, though more research is needed on moral emotions that are faked for manipulative reasons.

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Walker, B.R., Jackson, C.J. Moral Emotions and Corporate Psychopathy: A Review. J Bus Ethics 141, 797–810 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3038-5

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Keywords

  • Moral emotions
  • Emotions
  • Psychopathy
  • Corporate psychopathy
  • Anger