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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 20, 2010

A new study finds that negative personality traits are not necessarily a bad thing.

In particular, traits such as arrogance, hesitance, being overly dramatic, inflexible, or being a “yes-man” may be helpful when it comes to leading.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers studied the development of leaders over a three-year period.

Prior research had established that clearly positive personality qualities — such as extraversion, emotional stability and conscientiousness — had helpful effects on both the performance and the development of leaders.

Little attention has been paid, though, to negative, or “dark side,” personality traits and whether they are really so bad.

“Mae West told us that when she’s good, she’s good. But when she’s bad, she’s even better. We chose to investigate so-called subclinical or ‘dark side’ traits because we really didn’t know much about how and to what degree they affected performance or development,” said Peter Harms, the study’s lead author.

“Was it possible that they might be beneficial in some contexts? For some of them, it turns out that the answer was yes.”

The study found, for example, that being overly skeptical was uniformly bad for performance and development. But having a very cautious or hesitant nature was associated with both increased performance and developing leadership skills over time.

The study tracked more than 900 officer cadets in their second, third and fourth years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It used the Hogan Development Survey, a comprehensive measure of subclinical traits, to predict changes in a variety of leadership areas that were regularly assessed in developmental reviews at the Academy.

Several of the 12 “dark side” traits – such as those associated with narcissism, being overly dramatic, being critical of others and being extremely focused on complying with rules – actually had a positive effect on a number of facets of the cadets’ leadership development over time.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/10/20/dark-side-traits-helpful-at-times/19844.html



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