Category Archives: Psychology

Starting a Company Can Turn You into a Psychopath

[The title of this post is tongue-in-cheek, of course]

A few months ago we tested 5,000+ folks for psychopathy via Hacker News by asking them to agree/disagree with statements like “Success is based on survival of the fittest; I’m not concerned about the losers”. While it was based on a scientifically validated survey instrument,[1] this was not a controlled, scientific study. Our motive is to showcase and promote interesting uses of Statwing in order to take over the world, of course.

Our survey generated a cool dataset that you’re welcome to explore. We played with it a little bit, and found some interesting correlations. What do they mean? You be the judge.

Fun factoid #1: startup founders tend to be more psychopathic than people in other positions.

Our psychopathy scores range from 0 to 46. The average for founders in our survey (n = 407) was 18.59. The average for non-founders (n = 4195) was 16.41. Take a look at the distributions:

founders-vs-nonfounders

Click to see the dataset in Statwing, including statistical output for all comparisons made in this post.

 

Fun factoid #2: Windows users tend to be more psychopathic than Mac users. Linux users are less psychopathic than the previous two groups. 

The scores for the groups are:

  • Windows: 17.5 (n = 1,945)
  • Mac: 16.8 (n = 1,832)
  • Linux: 16.0 (n = 789)

This poses some interesting questions. How has the population of Windows users evolved over the past 25 years? How does socioeconomic status affect these results? How is the choice to use open-source software related to someone’s personality?  It’d be awesome to run a controlled study with large numbers of users to find differences in personality traits.

Here’s an exercise for the reader: can you guess how programming language usage correlates with psychopathy? Go to our dataset and find out! 

Fun factoid #3: Chrome users have a higher psychopathy score than Firefox users

.

17.3 and 16.1, respectively. Of course these differences are relatively small, but enough to be statistically significant. Can you offer any theories? You can check some hypotheses by controlling for other variables; for example, founders are more likely to use Chrome than non-founders, but if you filter out non-founders, the effect still remains.

Hacker News readers, thank you for your participation in the survey. Perhaps we should run the same survey against the general population (or maybe not, do we really want to know?). If you’re interested in running this survey (or a similar one), please get in touch. Also, please go ahead and see what other interesting factoids you can glean from our psychopathy dataset. We love data, and we hope you enjoy playing with it as much as we did!

Discussion on Hacker News

Edit: Just to be clear, all the statements above are backed up by statistical analysis, all of which you can reach by playing with the dataset in Statwing. Here’s an example:

Statistical output from Statwing showing the difference between founders and non-founders.

Statistical output from Statwing showing the difference between founders and non-founders.

Notes

[1] The Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale has been validated as having reasonably similar results to the much more prevalent, professionally-administered Psychopathy Checklist.

Are you a psychopath?

Complete the scientifically validated test below to see how psychopathic you are relative to others who have taken the test.[1] It will take two minutes, and you’ll be contributing to some fun data that we’ll share back to the community. Psychopathy is on a spectrum: some people are less empathetic and prosocial than others, regardlessContinue Reading

Democrats are Neurotic, Republicans are Close-minded, & Other Statistical Overstatements

We here at Statwing are curious folk, so we thought it’d be fun to analyze the relationship between politics and personality. Using CrowdFlower, we asked 2,000 Americans about their U.S. presidential election voting plans, as well as what psychologists call the Big 5 personality traits—Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, and Extraversion. Then we took the results and pasted them intoContinue Reading