Deconstructing the Corporate Psychopath: An Examination of Deceptive Behavior

37 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017 Last revised: 27 Jun 2017

Date Written: June 26, 2017


This paper examines whether business students deceive others more often than non-business students. A cheap talk experiment and an ethics questionnaire are employed to examine the subject’s behavior. Fundamental differences, such as psychopathic personality, are used to examine their role in deceptive and unethical behavior. The results show that business students deceive others for personal gain more often than non-business students when there is the most to gain; however, business students find deception committed by others as unethical. Business students exhibit more psychopathic tendencies compared to non-business students, including being more likely to fit the prototypical psychopath profile. This fundamental difference in psychopathy can help explain why individuals deceive others and behave unethically. These results have important implications for the business industry and the design of policies. Thus, this study endeavors to advance the literature on fundamental distinctions between those who work in high levels of organizations and how this fundamental difference impacts decision making.

Keywords: Business, Corporate Psychopath, Deception, Ethics, Major, Psychopathy

JEL Classification: A13, C91, D03

Suggested Citation

Shank, Corey, Deconstructing the Corporate Psychopath: An Examination of Deceptive Behavior (June 26, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Corey Shank (Contact Author)

Miami University ( email )

Oxford, OH 45056
United States

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