Want to get rich? Forget what Hollywood says; acting like a psychopath doesn't pay.

If you want to make it to the top, you've got to embrace your dark side, right? Turns out, maybe not.

If "American Psycho," "House of Cards," and "The Wolf of Wall Street" taught us anything, it's that the key to financial success is a mixture of callousness, manipulation, and a soupçon of narcissism. But while psychopaths make excellent television characters... 

GIF from "House of Cards"/Netflix.


...it turns out that in the real world, they're not as successful as one might think.

A new study of hedge fund managers found that, contrary to popular wisdom, psychopathic tendencies might actually make you suck at your job.

Leanne ten Brinke is a researcher at the University of Colorado and a former forensic psychologist who got interested in psychopaths after a conversation with a colleague. They couldn't agree about what makes someone a successful leader, so they decided to put certain personality traits to the test.

To figure this out, ten Brinke's team scrounged up 101 recorded interviews with hedge fund managers; rated each one with an eye for attributes that approached the "dark triad" of psychopathic, narcissistic, and Machiavellian tendencies; and compared the final results with assessments of each manager's career success.

The conventional thinking might be that more callous risk-takers would be the most successful, right? But the more psychopathic personalities actually ended up generating about 15% less money for their shareholders. And the more psychopath-like the managers got, the worse they did.

While this might go against what Hollywood tells us, these results lined up with previous research ten Brinke and her colleagues did on U.S. senators, which revealed that darker personalities attracted fewer co-sponsors for potential bills.

In general, psychopathic tendencies don't make for good leaders.

"They're not very good team players," said ten Brinke. "They tend to make their subordinates' lives kind of miserable. Which doesn't exactly bring out the best in people." While they can talk the talk, when it comes to actually producing results, things fall apart.

"They look really confident and like they're very capable, but when you actually look at the performance, it tends to be poor," ten Brinke said.

This has implications for anyone looking to promote an employee, elect a leader, or work under a new boss.

Television might make us think that a company's success relies on employing someone like Gordon Gekko, but as ten Brinke noted, "When we have the chance to choose our leaders, we should check our assumptions."

So what did make someone a better leader? There wasn't a single trait, but if you zoom out, ten Brinke said that her previous senator study suggested that good old fashioned virtues like courage, wisdom, and a sense of justice win out.

Score one for the good guys.

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Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

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True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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