Law students are more likely to be psychopaths than their psychology-studying peers — but economics and business students are the ‘darkest’

The study looked at Machiavellianism and narcissism too

Research has found that law and political science students are “darker” than psychology students, but that “there are more ‘dark’ individuals within the field of economics/business than anywhere else.”

The other important finding was that these personality traits were present at the beginning of the students’ training. In the past, research has tended to find that students develop certain personality traits during their training.

As the paper, by psychologists at Aarhus University in Denmark, puts it: “[social scientists] have argued that the academic schooling within law and business schools promotes a view of human nature and a behavioural pattern that heavily emphasise self-interest”.

But this latest study of 487 newly-enrolled students at an unnamed Danish university showed that personality differences are present at the point of enrollment and “therefore not due to socialisation processes whilst studying for their degrees”.

The research, which was based on a self-rating questionnaire asking students to agree or disagree with specific statements, looked at not only what are known as the ‘Big Five’ personality traits — neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness — but also the more recently developed traits called the ‘Dark Triad’: Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism.

Last year, research into the Big Five personality traits found that law, business and economics students score consistently lower on “agreeableness” than students enrolled in other subjects, particularly in comparison with humanities or arts students.

It is worth noting that this most recent Danish study is a comparative exercise with only a limited number of subjects, a limitation which the paper itself observes.

What is also interesting is that the personality traits are not particularly well-aligned with behaviours that are considered to be useful if you want to be a good lawyer.

In a groundbreaking piece of work on this, two professors in the United States found that the necessary “behaviours” for being an effective lawyer are items such as “passion and engagement” and “integrity and honesty”.

Perhaps lawyers can try and pick up these behaviours once they are practising…

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19 Comments

Not a psycho and will kill anyone who says she is

Doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

I met plenty at my red brick university who had obviously been groomed by their schools and parents into thinking they were God’s gift to the world, and who reacted badly to any kind of feedback that didn’t fit this view.

This included one 19 year old aspiring tax-barrister who, after receiving some mild criticism after a debating session, broke down sobbing loudly and started yelling, full-throated, at the person who had given the feedback.

The number of folk who also took feedback from tutors as a personal insult was astonishing.

I was also surprised at the number of times I saw incontinence supplies being delivered to the halls.

Clearly some red brick students have major issues mental health-wise. I dread to think what Oxbridge was like!

That said, many of those at my red brick were Oxbridge rejects and had a chip on the shoulder as a result.

(12)(1)
Anon

Guys guys guys, even though I set up my own political party and seriously believed I could challenge Theresa May in Maidenhead, as well as being a prolific tweeter who enjoys telling half the country they are stupid and racist, I am NOT a narcissist!!!

(13)(1)
Corbyn. Sympathiser.

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(3)
The knowledge

The Maug’ has clearly terrified the LC team into removing anything remotely critical or satirical about him from the comments.

If only Harley, Proudman et al had thought of that…?

(1)(1)
Anonymous

Not surprised.

The mad axemen lawyers who work for the UK far-right government would argue that one year old babies are criminally responsible for smelly nappies.

(2)(4)
Anonymous

Being a psychopath has nothing to do with being violent towards others. It’s has everything to do with lack of empathy and viewing other people as objects and useful tools.

I often have to fake empathy at work so my colleagues do not find out.

(10)(0)
Anonymous

Most top politicians, CEOs and senior city professionals are non-violent psychopaths. Ruthless, competitive and narcissistic types.

(6)(0)
Anonymous

Psychopats are usually extremely confident people. They can have an intense and impulsive presence, but can also be very charismatic and superficially charming, if they want to. There’s not shortage of these types in the City.

(4)(0)
Corbyn. Sympathiser.

I don’t know what a psychopat is, but I don’t want him delivering my post.

(16)(1)
Best Comment of the Day Finder

This is the best comment of the day.

(3)(4)
Not Amused

The people who conduct these studies are *generally* from a certain political/ethical viewpoint. And that viewpoint is *generally* one which does not approve of personal ambition, aspiration and confidence. It is one which *generally* dislikes lawyers and bankers.

So arranging for ‘studies’, which are often little more than questionnaires, in order to legitimise the act of calling someone you disagree with “mentally ill” is really rather questionable. Indeed the very premise is questionable because genuine mental illness should not carry this stigma and potential diagnoses of mental illness should not be used to insult people.

It is to me a bit like a leftie calling anyone who does not agree with them “a racist” or “scum”.

The world would be better if we accepted that there is no *one* correct ideology and that we all have our own subjective view points. If we all grow up to respect people who disagree with us and attempt to empathise with them then the world would be a better place.

This ‘study’ is really just more of the bad and divisive rhetoric which we should be moving away from.

(7)(4)
Anonymous

“It is to me a bit like a leftie calling anyone who does not agree with them “a racist” or “scum”.”

Not really, they’re being more charitable, giving them a medical excuse for why they are the way they are, instead of being so blunt.

(0)(0)
Anonymous

So as an ex-business & economics graduate and now law graduate, I am basically a danger to society?

(1)(0)
Doc. Ludvig Friedrich Von Lowenstein

Quite amusing thread here Doc.

(0)(0)
Anonymous

The language of equity, trusts and land made me feel posh and superior.

(2)(0)

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