Research Claims These Things Might Make You a Psychopath

Think Patrick Bateman from American Psycho
Think Patrick Bateman from American Psycho

The term “psychopath” used to be reserved for people who commit murder without any remorse or enjoy other people’s pain. Although psychopathy is not officially classified as a sanctioned diagnosis, antisocial personality disorder or dissocial personality disorder are both considered pretty close. Canadian psychologist Robert D. Hare developed a Psychopathy Checklist that includes things like impaired empathy and remorse, high levels of impulsivity and aggression, and superficial charm and manipulativeness. Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test is an interesting place to start if you want to know more about how these traits are measured.

Like most things, there are varying degrees of psychopathy and it might be possible to have a couple traits that some people consider abnormal. The word psychopath shouldn’t be thrown around lightly, but lately there have been a lot of reports of studies that have found seemingly arbitrary things that might indicate a person has psychopathic tendencies. Take it with a grain of salt, but if any of the following sounds like you, you might be on the spectrum.

You enjoy Justin Bieber’s or Eminem’s music
Considering the number of people who willingly admitted that Justin Bieber’s last album was actually really good (myself included), it’s hard to believe that would be a warning sign of a psychopath. A study done by a psychology professor at NYU found that the songs that people who tested highest in psychopathic traits liked the most included What Do You Mean? by Justin Bieber and Lose Yourself by Eminem.

The study asked 190 psychology students to answer questions that rated their level of psychopathy. Questions included “Love is overrated” and “For me, what’s right is whatever I can get away with.” Not exactly subtle—especially to a group of psychology students. What these results actually contributes to the study of psychopathy is unclear but it’s a fun fact to bring up at a party when a Justin Bieber song comes on. Or not.

You always want to stay friends with your exes
Cutting off contact with someone after you break up with them isn’t easy but in most cases it’s necessary if you want to move on. That being said, staying friends with an ex isn’t uncommon—it just depends why you’re staying friends with them. Researchers from Oakland University narrowed down seven reasons for why someone might stay friends with an ex and found that people who choose practical reasons that contribute to their own person gain like “access to sex” are also higher in “dark personality traits” like psychopathy and narcissism.

Of course, having an ex or two as a friend doesn’t automatically mean you’re a psychopath. If it feels natural and you genuinely care about maintaining a friendship, you’re fine. If you’re just keeping them on the hook for your own personal gain, stop it.

You studied Business
You may have heard that many high powered CEOs have qualities that rate high on the psychopathy spectrum. One study found that one in five senior executives in America rated highly for psychopathic traits like low empathy and manipulativeness. Another study by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark found that people with the so-called “dark triad” of personality traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) are more likely to choose to study business or economics. The study also determined that students start out with the traits rather than developing them throughout their education. They just have an innate desire for power and choose to pursue careers that will help them to achieve that.

You like your coffee black
A study published last y last year claimed there is a correlation between certain undesirable personality traits and enjoying bitter flavours, including black coffee. 1000 adults were surveyed, first asked to report their preferences between flavours like salty, bitter, sweet and sour and then taking personality tests that assessed traits like sadism, narcissism and psychopathy.

Preference for bitter flavours and answers that pointed towards a tendency for “everyday sadism” happened to be the closest association. On the other hand, if you drink your coffee with milk and sugar, you might tend to be more agreeable, kind and cooperative.

You don’t catch yawns
You know how they say yawns are contagious? That’s because seeing someone yawn triggers an empathetic response in your brain making you feel the need to yawn too. If you’re a psychopath, empathy isn’t your strong suit, so seeing someone yawn would have no effect on you whatsoever. Past studies have found that children on the autism spectrum are also less likely to catch a yawn because of their lower levels of empathy and lack of understanding of social cues. It’s one of those involuntary reactions, or lack there of, that you don’t really pay any attention to. That is until you realize someone close to you never seems to catch a yawn.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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