The secret of their success? How U.S. leaders from JFK to Roosevelt and George W Bush share character traits with psychopaths

A character trait in psychopaths has been identified by scientists as a common thread in successful US presidents.

Fearless dominance, which is linked to less social and physical apprehensiveness, boosts leadership, persuasiveness, crisis management and congressional relations, according to new research.

Theodore Roosevelt, regarded as one of the most influential US leaders even though he was in office more than a hundred years ago, ranked highest for this type of personality followed by John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Then came Rutherford Hayes, Zachary Taylor, Bill Clinton, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson and George W Bush.

Fearless and dominant people are often a paradoxical mix of charm and nastiness. Cool and calm under pressure, they not easily rattled.

They lack the same kind of anticipatory anxiety that most people have so are not put off from taking dangerous actions.

They are usually intelligent and wealthy, relishing directing other people’s activities and basking in their admiration.

Psychologist Professor Scott Lilienfeld, of Emory University, Atlanta, said: ‘Certain psychopathic traits may be like a double edged sword.

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