Personality traits in organized crime groups: the results of one interesting study
Recently, I came across a study carried out by researchers at Aarhus University that focused on the personality traits of members of organised crime groups in Denmark.
I wrote a few years ago about an interesting study that compared the personality traits of successful entrepreneurs and paid managers of large corporations. Recently, however, I came across a study carried out by researchers at Aarhus University that focused on the personality traits of members of organised crime groups in Denmark.
Although the sample was quite small (53 members), I found the findings intriguing. It should be said that the members were not ordinary street fighters, petty crooks or kleptomaniacs, but members of groups with authority in the criminal world.
This time, too, three Hogan tests were used to map personality traits. The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) assesses personal strengths, Hogan Development Survey (HDS) personal risks, and Motivations, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI) motivational sources and preferences. Today, millions of managers and professionals from very different fields of activity have completed Hogan’s tests in the world, in Estonia we have been able to evaluate both recruitment and manager development programs over a thousand managers, top managers and professionals.
So what were the findings, and to what extent do they overlap with stereotypical notions from Hollywood mafia movies?
First of all, it should be understood that criminal groups offer their members the same benefits as any other collective: social identity, group affiliation, etc. Interestingly, for example, similarities have been found between criminal groups and politically extreme groups. Both offer so-called career and self-realization opportunities, meanings and a sense of belonging to a certain profile that they may not find anywhere else. The test results should be interpreted taking into account the context.
In terms of their motivational sources and values profile (MVPI), the members of the sample were quite similar to middle managers or, for example, venture capitalists, receiving high scores in hedonism, money, power and security scales. To be clear: for them, status, material benefits, pleasures, and the certainty and predictability of receiving these benefits in the future are important.
Sample members’ personal risk profiles (HDS) highlighted some interesting findings. Hogan suggested that some of the otherwise unproductive qualities in ordinary life can be very productive in the criminal world. The members received high scores on the scale of skepticism, which measures distrust and cynical attitudes towards other people. Surprisingly, high scores also came on the scale of perfectionism, which evaluates an orientation to detail and exactingness to the performance of oneself and others. Also on the colorful scale, which refers to the desire to stand out from others and to receive the attention and admiration of members. As expected, the members of the sample were also characterized by high loyalty to the leader of the group.
The MVPI and HDS scores suggest that the study participants seem to have innate expectations of career success, but at the same time have not chosen conventional and accepted options for their realization. This Hogan thought is supported by the rather low scores of the respondents’ HPI test (the scale average remained significantly below 50%). Hogan interprets the situation this way: members of the criminogenic group are alienated from generally accepted social roles and rules, while still wanting to partake of the benefits and resources that ordinary professional life allows – money, power, sensory experiences. One of the interesting indicators in the HPI profile was also the low interest of the sample members in education and self-improvement. At the same time, this is again one of the prerequisites for succeeding in society.
Finally, Hogan emphasizes that human beings are social animals and that we have three great goals in life: to find meanings and goals in life, to be accepted by others, but at the same time to strive for a certain towards status and to achieve something in life. People satisfy these needs mainly through various groups: family and friendship groups, organizations, hobby groups, political associations, etc. For many adolescents from poorer social groups, joining criminogenic groups is like a rational choice. However, paradoxically, “career success” in such a combination can require quite similar skills as in some large and successful publicly traded companies.
Since 2010, Adera Executive Search has been using Hogan’s tests in leadership evaluation and development. To date, about 10 million working adults worldwide have taken Hogan tests. How many exciting (and also surprising) discoveries such a global dataset has offered! If you are interested in personality psychology and would like to receive news on this topic, come and register https://aderaexecutive.com/uudised/
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