Can't figure out why your co-worker isn't bothered by an abusive boss -- and may even seem to be thriving? One clue, a recent study suggests, could be that "bad" employees have the same characteristics as "bad" bosses. Known as primary psychopaths, the underlings are able to brush off abusive managers and get ahead. Familiarity, it seems, does not breed contempt.
The study, published last month in the Journal of Business Ethics, suggested that those who fit this description "do have access to greater psychological resources than their peers under abusive supervision." Still, the researchers wrote, abusive supervisors might empower employees who "hold strong potential to damage the organization and its stakeholders."
Primary psychopaths "don't react to negative signals that provoke other people's anger or fear," Charlice Hurst, an assistant professor of management at the University Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business and the study's lead researcher, said in an interview. "They have a really high tolerance for stress and for aggression toward them. They just don't react. And they don't have normal emotional reaction that would be helpful in an environment where you have someone who is behaving or who engages in behavior that usually invokes anger and fear."
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