Forget about palmistry! MRI scans for candidates in top jobs such as bank directors could soon become part of the job-application package, says Erasmus University researcher Prof Willem Verbeke of Rotterdam, He's confident brain scans will replace job interviews within 5 years.
Prof. Verbeke heads the department of neuro-economics, (NSIM), at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He predicts in an interview with Good Morning Netherlands radio station that employers demanding compulsory brain scans from their job applicants will soon become the most normal thing in the world – in fact within five years' time', he believes.
Financial chaos by psychopathic behavior
Especially after the economic fiascos which are plunging the world into recession, a great deal of interest is being shown by the economic sector in their neuro-testing job application scheme, which is now being developed and tested, he said. Neuro-economics is a new research field, combining economics, psychology, genetics and neuro-science.
One of the most important developments in this field are the use of EEGs and MRI-scans to determine the suitability of candidates for specific jobs, he said. It's been known for the past thirty years that one can determine human psychological disabilities such as autism and psychopathic tendencies in brain-scans, he said. However exact guidelines are only now being developed for practical applications in industry and the economic field by his department.
While brain-scanning their volunteers, the Erasmus University researchers can identify exactly to which extent people react 'spontaneously', i.e. subconsciously, to specific social interactions - such as financial trading on the stock market or shop personnel interacting with customers.
Thus they could also test job applicants for important posts such as bank directors and financial institutions to determine whether they are even suitable -- or whether they have psychopathic tendencies which would exclude them from such jobs.
"In a brain scan one can see what people notice spontaneously, such as sales personnel interacting with customers,' he said.
They have already discovered that people with slight autism, for instance, are totally unable to notice that customers may be responding negatively towards specific suggestions they make.
He even named one specific person, the director of a large bank in the Netherlands, who "clearly didn't notice that people were shocked by his comments during press interviews'. Such slightly autistic persons would be far better suited for jobs where they have to have high levels of concentration and don't need to interact with people much -- 'for instance by placing them in university research jobs or computer-technology.'
Psychopathic behaviour in bank CEOs
Even more important, he felt, was to establish psychopathic behaviour in job-applications - as people which were determined to have psychotic reactions as seen on their brainscans, ' would be totally unsuitable for leading jobs such as a bank director or the CEO of a multinational trading company.
"We noticed from the scans that psychopaths are overly-emphatic towards people, but at the same time also don't understand why people do specific things. This creates a high level of fear and suspicion in such psychopathic individuals, and this often drives them to have to 'stay ahead of people scheming against them'.
"This can be particularly dangerous in people who hold very responsible positions, such as CEOs of financial institutions.' He again mentioned one person's name whose financial manipulations in New York have caused financial ruin for many millions of people and banks worldwide.
Verbeke said that -- especially after recent discoveries in the international financial world that some important people had clearly been totally unsuitable for holding responsible positions -- it will become the most normal thing in the world for companies to want brainscans from their job-applicants, similar to the physical health-checks now often also undertaken.
"If I wanted someone to become a company director, I would most certainly first want a brain-scan to make sure he wasn't psychopathic or autistic tendencies', Verbeke said.
Dutch legal expert Guus van Vos however said that at the moment it was still not allowed under Dutch privacy laws to demand brainscans as part of job applications..
"By law right now, if you haven't done anything wrong which could lead to authorities believing that you might have a neorological problem, you can't undergo such a brainscan to determine your psychological abilities', Van Vos said.
Verbeke said the law was designed 'before brain-scans even existed' and that this would undoubtedly be addressed eventually.
He said his research department was now establishing up the exact neuro-scientific guidelines amongst a great many volunteers to develop a brain-scan screening programme for job-applicants.
"It's very interesting for us to establish exactly how the brain works during economic decision-making,' says Verbeke.
"Economic decisions, such as those made by sales professionals and financial institutions, often aren't only based on rational but also on emotional decision making.
"However the emotional part is largely subconscious. That's why we use the fMRI to investigate this subconscious thinking- and emotional-processes'.