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雅虎CEO学历造假丑闻的心理学诊断

Katherine Reynolds Lewis 2012年05月20日

斯科特•汤普森因为学历注水丢掉了雅虎CEO的宝座,也毁掉了自己的锦绣前程。为什么位高权重的人们会为了一个小小的谎言,甘心冒这么大的风险?心理学家为我们照亮了他们幽暗的内心世界,从中找到了蛛丝马迹。

    雅虎(Yahoo)首席执行官斯科特•汤普森在简历造假风波中黯然离职,留给我们的一个问题是:他为什么要这么做?

    不管是汤普森自己在个人简历上添加了从未获得的大学专业,还是他只是在他人造假的文件上签上了自己的名字,这个谎言断送了他的大好前程,也让他入围因简历作假名誉扫地、最终下台的高管名单,这名单中还包括RadioShack 前首席执行官戴夫•埃德蒙森和圣母橄榄球队(Notre Dame)主教练乔治•奥利瑞。

    他们为什么要这么做?为什么要在一番大事业里为这样一个小小的谎言冒这么大的风险?

    汤普森没有策划几十亿美元的庞氏骗局,也没有挪用几百万美元的公司资金。过去几年的某个时候,他把简历中实际从石山大学(Stonehill College)获得的会计学位更改为会计和计算机学位——这个错误的履历在他担任贝宝(PayPal)总裁时就阶段性地出现在他的在线简介中。今年1月份加入雅虎(Yahoo)后,这份包含双专业的官方简历就进入了雅虎向美国证券交易委员会(SEC)提交的年报,首席执行官本人必须亲自证明年报内容的真实可靠。

    “无论自己捏造,还是与他人串通造成这个错误,他都没勇气纠正,”常驻纽约的消费文化专家和品牌策略师亚当•汉夫特表示。

    虽然有在媒体上对某人进行公开精神分析之嫌,汉夫特和其他领导力、人类行为专家对此类欺骗行为给出了四大类解释:

不安全感

    当事实过于痛苦、难堪或不足时,人们就会说谎。“显然,他没有进入一流的学校。因此,我认为,他有些不安全感或缺憾,”汉夫特说。“尽管如此,某人还是取得了成功,但(还是像常人一样)有一些不安,担心被发现。”

    虽然外界看来,汤普森就是成功的化身,是美国企业界一颗冉冉升起的新星,也是雅虎力争从贝宝挖来拯救这家陷入困境的互联网巨头的人选,但他的自我认知可能截然不同。.

    “说谎源自一个根深蒂固的信念:我其实是个窝囊废。我需要打造一个光鲜、闪亮的自我展现在世界面前。如果任何人一旦发现我真实的样子,一切都会崩塌,”纽约精神分析学家伊丽莎白•辛格说。“捏造学历让他陷入了他一直竭力避免的耻辱。”

    In the wake of Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson's departure amid controversy over his padded resume, the question remains: why did he do it?

    Whether Thompson embellished his bio with a college major he didn't earn, or simply signed his name to a document that someone else falsified, the lie cost him a flourishing career. It also added him to an ignominious list of powerful leaders who stepped down in disgrace over resume deceptions, including former RadioShack (RSH) CEO Dave Edmondson and Notre Dame head football coach George O'Leary.

    Why do they do it? Why do they risk so much over what, in the grand scheme of things, is a small dishonesty?

    Thompson didn't devise a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme or embezzle millions in company funds. At some point in the last few years, his actual accounting degree from Stonehill College on his bio changed into a degree in both accounting and computer science -- a false credential that appeared periodically in his online bio when he was PayPal president. After he joined Yahoo (YHOO) in January, his official bio containing the double major became part of the company's annual report filed to the SEC, a document that CEOs must personally attest is truthful.

    "Whether he was the fabricator or complicit in the perpetuation of the falsehood, he didn't have the courage to correct it," says Adam Hanft, a consumer culture expert and branding strategist based in New York.

    At the risk of psychoanalyzing someone through the media, Hanft and other experts in leadership and human behavior offer four broad categories of explanation for this kind of deception.

Insecurity.

    People lie when the truth is too painful, embarrassing, or simply perceived as inadequate. "Clearly he didn't go to a first-tier school, so I would suggest that he was operating under some feeling of insecurity or inadequacy," Hanft says. "Here's somebody who achieved despite that, but -- as people do -- harbors some anxiety and the fear of being found out."

    While Thompson might appear to the outside world to embody success -- a rising star in corporate America whom Yahoo wooed from PayPal to turn around the struggling Internet giant -- his own self-perception could be wildly different.

    "Lying results from a deep-seated belief: I am horrible on the inside. I need to make up a bright, shiny self to show the world. If anyone ever finds out who I truly am, everything will come crashing down," says New York-based psychoanalyst Elizabeth Singer. "Look how fudging his academic record has brought about the shame he sought to avoid."

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