In a recent blog post, I passed on a statistic I read in an article by Sherree DeCovny in CFA Magazine that one out of every ten Wall Street employees is clinically psychopathic. A friend later referred me to another article, “Untrue: One out of every Ten Wall Street Employees is a Psychopath” by John M. Grohol. Digging a little deeper into the sensational statistic, he discovered that DeCovny, who attributed the one in ten statistic to Canadian forensic psychologist Robert Hare, never read Hare’s research herself or interviewed Hare. She simply took another expert’s word for it. That is, when DeCovny’s interviewed psychologist Christopher Bayer, he mentioned the statistic and attributed it to research by Hare.
While Grohol found that Hare did co-author a paper that examined “corporate psychopathy,” with colleagues Paul Babiak and Craig Neumann in 2010, the paper did not evaluate the financial services industry specifically. Rather, Hare’s research followed 203 corporate professionals from 7 different companies who had been selected to participate in management development programs. Moreover, when Grohol contacted Hare to ask if the claim that one in ten financial industry employees is a “psychopath” came from his research, Hare responded, “I don’t know who threw out the 10% but it certainly it did not come from me or my colleagues.”
So, I want to set the record straight – and underscore the value of digging beneath the surface to verify the facts. That’s exactly the kind of work we do every day in the investment realm and something we will certainly endeavor to improve upon in the blogosphere.