Success by sociopath

There is a classic book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” which examines seven classic psychological “tricks” for influencing people and their behaviors, one of which is the principle of reciprocity. If you think about it for a second, you’re all probably familiar with this one: if you give someone a gift, even only a token, you activate in that person a need to reciprocate in some way.

Taking advantage of, or ignoring those kinds of implied relationships that are created all day every day between people in business and life can turn in to a very effective way to get ahead: by preying on the social expectations of others. I am not a psychologist, but I believe this is also (in some forms) called being a sociopath.

If a friend shares a great idea that they’re working on, you could take it and run with it, for example. My boss tends to call this doing things that are “legal but not moral,” and there’s a wide range of examples in the history of successes like Facebook and Microsoft.

So is sociopathy an effective component of putting a dent in the universe? Probably. Is it a necessary component?