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- A psychological study of 43 ultra-high net worth individuals from across the globe by German researcher Rainer Zitelmann found that one of the personality traits they all share is a problem with authority.
- In addition to having problems with authority, Zitelmann also found that ultra-wealthy people are more open to new experiences and more extroverted than the population as a whole Business Insider previously reported.
- The ultra-wealthy’s inability to do things by the book may be part of what makes them successful, Zitelmann told Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Many ultra-wealthy people are great leaders, but that doesn’t mean they’re good at being led.
A psychological study of 43 ultra-high net worth individuals from across the globe by German researcher Rainer Zitelmann found that one of the personality traits many of them share is a problem with authority.
“I call them non-conformists,” Zitelmann told Business Insider. “A lot of them had trouble with authorities, like at school early in their lives.”
The ultra-wealthy people Zitelmann interviewed, all entrepreneurs and investors, had net worths of at least $11 million. Zitelmann also had each of them take a 50-question personality test based on the “Five-Factor Theory of Personality” and analyzed their results for his book “The Wealth Elite.”
The interviewees’ distaste for taking orders also influenced their professional lives. Zitelmann found that 40 of the 45 people interviewed had been self-employed for most, if not all, of their careers.
In addition to problems with authority, Zitelmann also found that ultra-wealthy people are “less neurotic and less agreeable, but have a higher degree of conscientiousness, are more open to new experience, and more extroverted than the population as a whole,” Business Insider previously reported.
Several notable billionaires have famously displayed the same problems with authority Zitelmann noted in his study. Business Insider previously reported that CNN founder Ted Turner was expelled from Brown University before graduating after letting his girlfriend live in his dorm room with him, against school rules. Steve Jobs was also hostile to authority figures and had a “compulsion for control,” according to Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography.
Zitelmann also told Business Insider that he was not surprised by this observation. “I think it’s logical,” he said. “If you do things the same way, like everyone else, you will not grow super-rich and have a half a billion or billions of dollars in the end. You have to act different and to act different, you have to think different.”