A few weeks ago, I came across a reference to an unpublished conference paper, with the intriguing title, “ Does endorsement of hierarchy make you evil? SDO and psychopathy.”
So I contacted the lead author, Marc Wilson, a New Zealand psychologist at Victoria University of Wellington, to ask him about his research.
First, a bit of background. Psychopathy — once thought to be an all-or-nothing condition — is now understood in a dimensional fashion (more or less) and is measured by instruments such as The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised. While our understanding of psychopathy first developed largely from studying criminal populations, Hare himself has said, “I always said that if I wasn’t studying psychopaths in prison, I’d do it at the stock exchange,” so it’s fairly straightforward to measure and compare psychopathic tendencies and SDO. And that’s just what Wilson has done.
“The research shows that SDO and psychopathy have a reciprocal causal relationship over time — as people become more social dominant, they become more psychopathic, and vice versa,” Wilson told me. “This is based on longitudinal research that shows that, for example, increased SDO (or psychopathy) at time 1 predicts greater psychopathy (or SDO) at time 2. I’ve done this for both convenience samples (university students) and thousands of general population.”
University students get tested a lot — as Wilson indicated, they’re quite convenient. But sooner or later it’s bound to raise questions of just how well the results hold up in a larger population. So it’s significant that he’s already taken that step, and found confirmation as well.
“When SDO was originally proposed, it was argued that group dominance (as measured by SDO) is not the same thing as individual level dominance, and indeed that’s what the original research appeared to show,” he explained. “More recently there have been a few studies that have suggested SDO and psychopathy are related, and I’ve collected a lot of data now that leads me to believe they’re flip sides of the same coin — interpersonal dominance (psychopathy) on one side and group dominance (SDO) on the other.”
This is just what one might informally conclude from listening to the Donald Sterling tape. His personal abusiveness and unwarranted accusations against V. Stiviano is on one side of the coin; flip it over, and his contempt for black people is on the other. Jerk on one side, racist on the other.
Never mind that she’s made racist comments herself.
Never mind that she either pre-texted or unlawfully surveilled someone in their house.
Never mind that that is a form of moral and mental rape several orders of magnitude worse than saying rude things in your own home for your own private audience.]
“Therefore, it makes sense that environments that promote social hierarchies will also be fertile breeding grounds for individual dominance, and vice versa,” he continued. Digging down a bit into specifics was quite illuminating.
“By ‘environments’ I can imagine a few that are good candidates — financial markets for example,” Wilson said. “Indeed, some of my other work shows that people who work in commerce focused on hierarchy-enhancing wealth consolidation also tend to be more social dominant (an old finding) but also more psychopathic — indeed, people who study commerce at university are not only more psychopathic than people in other fields of study but less psychopathic commerce students are more likely to switch majors to more hierarchy-attenuating disciplines, while more psychopathic arts students (for example) are more likely to switch to commerce degrees.”
Lila: This is the state of moral and logical confusion in public debate in the West, which, unfortunately, sets the tone for the whole world.
Take Belle Knox, the current feminist icon.
She chooses to be routinely spit on, hit in the face, verbally abused, and gang-raped in the derriere, all on camera.
But, of course, there’s no “evil hierarchy” in any of that, nor “dominance,” nor “subordination”; no psychiatric problem there.
No, that”s all feminist empowerment and an honest day’s work, all the way.
And you dare not so much as roll your eyes at her.
On the other hand, if a young man, a conservative, signs up for a degree in commerce and enjoys the rough-and-tumble of the business world, watch out – you have Hitler or Mao on your hands. Call the FBI… the shrinks… the NY Times…. Get Paul Rosenberg on the case.
In Rosenberg’s tendentious, dishonest, simple-minded essay, good, decent ideas with which any conservative could agree – the dignity of manual work and the value of every individual – putrefy and turn into so much slime to fling against political opponents, albeit so clumsily, the effort says more about him than about them.