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Research reveals ‘dark personality traits’ needed for jobs in finance

Not all finance professionals are hubristic, colourful personalities with a tendency towards grandiosity and entitlement. And not all insurance professionals are mischievous and cunning risk takers. But if they are, it probably helps.

Research from Adrian Furnham at University College London and Gillian Hyde and Geoff Trickey of UK-based psychological consultancy PCL, published in the journal Applied Psychology, found that finance professionals score highly on several ‘darkside personality traits’, which they infer might be helpful to success in the insurance and finance sectors.

Furnham et al tested 392 insurance professionals, 197 finance professionals and 513 emergency services professionals for a variety of ‘dark traits’ over a ten year period. Their results for each group are displayed in the columns marked X in the table below.

Dark traits table

Compared to finance workers, the research suggested that people working in the emergency services are excitable, sceptical, cautious, diligent, leisurely and dutiful. By comparison, finance professionals are especially colourful, bold and mischievous. Strangely, insurance professionals were most mischievous of all.

The definitions of each ‘dark’ personality trait are given below. They’re not as innocuous as they sound.

Excitable: Moody and hard to please. Intense but short-lived enthusiasm for people or things.

Sceptical: Cynical, distrustful and doubting others’ true intentions

Cautious: Reluctant to take risks for fear of being rejected or negatively evaluated.

Reserved: Aloof, detached, and uncommunicative. Lacking interest in or awareness of the feelings of others.

Leisurely: Independent, ignoring people’s requests and becoming irritated or argumentative if they persist.

Bold: Unusually self-confident. Feelings of grandiosity and entitlement. Over-valuation of one’s capabilities.

Mischievous: Enjoying risk-taking and testing the limits. Needing excitement. Manipulative and deceitful. Cunning and exploitative.

Colourful: Expressive, animated and dramatic. Wanting to be noticed. Needing to be the centre of attention.

Imaginative: Acting and thinking in creative and sometimes odd or unusual ways.

Diligent: Meticulous, precise and perfectionistic. Inflexible about rules and procedures. Critical of others.

Dutiful: Eager to please and reliant on others for support and guidance. Reluctant to take independent action or go against popular opinion.

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