Believe it or not, roughly one in every 200 of us is a psychopath. Today, our planet has more that 30 million psychopaths roaming around. While most psychopaths can be dangerous, not all of them are. Contrary to popular belief, even though there are signs to recognize a psychopath, it’s not always easy to spot one since they are masters in disguise. In fact, someone you know and love could technically be a psychopath. While Hollywood tries to portray psychopaths as accurate as possible, not all of what they show is correct. These people lack empathy and don’t feel guilt, so walking among us and doing bad things is an easy task for them. Here, we are listing some of the things you never knew about psychopaths.
1. Psychopaths are people who do not recognize fear.
Most of us fear things that sound silly to others. At the same time, we are capable of recognizing fear in someone else. Just by observing a person’s eyes, facial reactions or trembling of hands, we have the ability to recognize someone who is scared or in distress. Psychopaths however, lack the feeling or can’t recognize fear. While many believe that these people are hardened by their lifestyle, which is why they lack fear, the reality is that they simply can’t.
The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls the fear response. Studies show that the outer part of the amygdala is much thinner than normal and much smaller than that of a healthy brain. Scientists used MRI scans on subjects who were diagnosed with psychopathic tendencies as well as those who were not. All subjects were shown images with different fear factors. While the non-diagnosed subjects showed normal signs of fear, the diagnosed ones lacked the emotion. Since they have no concept of the emotion which is known as fear, some even have trouble displaying it to others, which is a clear indicator. (source)
2. People with psychopathy don’t learn from their mistakes.
When we make a mistake, regardless of how severe it is, we have the natural tendency to take measures that prevents us from making the same mistake twice. People with psychopathy on the other hand don’t learn from their mistakes. A study was conducted by the University of Montreal, on three groups of people – healthy, non-offenders and offenders. During the study, the groups were asked to play an image-matching game and MRI scans were taken during the entire process.
At the end of the study, researchers observed that those with psychopathy didn’t change their behaviors in response to “punishment” in the game. This lead them to make poorer choices throughout the session, since they kept repeating their mistakes over and over again. Researchers concluded that this could be why those diagnosed with psychopathy tend to make impulsive choices. (source)
3. Psychopaths don’t respond to yawns well.
This is one of the easiest signs to spot a psychopath. A new pilot study, published online in the journal Individual and Personality Differences, researchers discovered that participants with psychopathy-related traits were less likely to yawn. The 2015 study showed videos of people yawning to two groups – healthy individuals and those with psychopathy-related traits. Researchers then recorded the facial expressions of participants where they discovered that the healthy individuals either yawned or tried hard to resist their desire to yawn. Meanwhile, the individuals with psychopathy-related traits were more had little to no facial expression in response. (source)
4. People with psychopathic tendencies post tons of selfies.
Sure, we all take selfies every now and then and love to upload them on social media for our friends to see. This is a common trait that we all share. A new study however, suggests that, for men at least, posting a ton of selfies could be a red flag for some troubling character traits. According to a study from Ohio State, comparing personality traits and social media usage, men who were more narcissistic and less empathetic tended to post more selfies. They were also more likely to spend time online than others.
Researchers stressed that while the subjects were never diagnosed with psychopathy, they exhibited psychopathic traits, like a lack of empathy and the unwavering assurance. The study conducted on 800 men ages 18 to 40, showed that higher levels of self-objectification and narcissism correlated with more social media usage as well as posting selfies. Researchers also found that those with psychopathic tendencies also edited their pictures more often than others. (source)
5. Studies show that businesses are filled with psychopaths.
In 2013, Kevin Dutton, an Oxford researcher, compiled a list of professions that attract most psychopaths. It might not come as a surprise but some of the top professions included police officers, surgeons, lawyers, and the top spot was achieved by CEO’s. A 2010 study found that 1 in every 25 CEO’s was a psychopath. These people can be terrible leaders and are always trying to undermine the people working below them. Having a CEO with psychopathic tendencies not only hurts the business, but also puts stress on workers since the effort they put into their work goes unappreciated. Such people are also known to manipulate their co-workers for their advantage. (source)
6. Psychopaths have a poor sense of smell.
The human nose has roughly 400 types of scent receptors that can detect at least 1 trillion different odors. For most of us, the scent of fresh-cut grass or a bonfire is easily recognizable, but it is not the case with psychopaths. Researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney studied 79 non-criminal psychopaths and performed smell tests on them. Each participant was given 16 sticks with scents such as coffee and apple. As they suspected, all participants had trouble recognizing the scents. This is because of the lower levels of brain function that not only affects their emotions, but also the ability to smell. While psychopaths might be cunning at lying their way out of a situation, they cannot lie their way through a smell test. (source)
7. One of the classic traits of a psychopath is emotional poverty.
Psychopaths are masters when it comes to playing others. They are constantly looking for someone whom he or she can emotionally take advantage of. Most psychopathic partners tend to play with their significant others mental health by pretending to be the victim. This causes the healthy individual to think that whatever they do is wrong and will cause pain to their loved one. This behavior also deprives the individual of the ability to think for themselves and to always rely on the psychopath to make decisions for them. If you’re in a relationship where the decisions are always one-sided, then it’s time to reconsider. (source)
8. Psychopaths actually feel happy when they manage to pull tricks on those surrounding them.
Psychopaths don’t feel guilt but they do feel happiness when they see someone else being miserable. Most psychopaths are focused on their own needs and desires so whatever others share with them goes unnoticed. Seeing pain in others gives them excitement, while they will continue to act as if they are supportive. Studies also show that higher levels of psychopathy were associated with lower levels of commitment and trust, and a lower overall quality of romantic relationships. (source)
9. Psychopaths are more likely to be night owls.
Studies show that people who stay up late at night are more likely to display anti-social personality traits such as narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathic tendencies. The study conducted by a University of Western Sydney researcher found that those who were awake in the twilight hours displayed greater anti-social tendencies than those who went to bed earlier. According to some researchers, the trait could be evolutionary since darkness gives criminals and cheaters a way to hide from others. (source)
10. They have higher dopamine levels in their brains. Their brains are also wired to seek rewards, no matter the consequences.
A new research from the Vanderbilt University found that the brains of psychopaths appear to be wired to keep seeking a reward; no matter the cost. “Psychopaths are often thought of as those with no remorse who take what they want without thinking about consequences,” Joshua Buckholtz, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology and lead author of the new study, said. “We found that a hyper-reactive dopamine reward system may be the foundation for some of the most problematic behaviors associated with psychopathy, such as crimes”. (source)