Psychopaths make up about one percent of the general population and their skill at manipulation makes them particularly dangerous, but a team of researchers headed by Jeffrey Hancock at Cornell University believes they may have found a way to spot a psychopath by the one thing they can’t completely control: their speech patterns.
Psychopaths are typically profoundly selfish and lack emotion. “In lay terms, psychopaths seem to have little or no ‘conscience,’” write the researchers in a study published online in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology.
Here’s a list of the characteristics they found after running their interviews through a computer analysis:
- Psychopaths describe their crimes in the past tense more often than and use “um” and “uh” – also known as dysfluencies – more often the researchers believe because they are trying to sound more sane.
- Psychopaths tend to use more cause-and-effect descriptors in their speech, such as “because” and “so that.”
- Psychopaths use twice as many words relating to the satisfaction of basic needs like food and shelter rather than “…higher-level needs, such as family, religion, spirituality, and self-esteem.”
Such analysis may also prove useful to investigations searching social media sites to track down possible suspects since similar, unconscious patterns tend to appear in one’s writing as well.
Full story at LiveScience.
A life of crime.
Photo credit: FotoliaAuthor on Google+