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Psychopaths say these 3 things twice as often as non-psychopaths, and they are less likely to discuss other common subjects, research reveals.
Psychopaths use words related to food, sex and money twice as often as non-psychopaths, a study finds. Interestingly, psychopaths are also less likely to use words related to family, religion and social needs.
The trends in word use reflect how psychopaths display excessive selfishness, detachment and emotional flatness.
The results come from an analysis of stories told by 14 psychopathic murderers in Canadian prisons. These prisoners were compared with 38 convicted murderers who were not psychopaths.
Each criminal spoke about their crime in detail, and researchers then analysed which words were used the most and what topics were covered more frequently.
Along with words related to money, sex and food, psychopaths were also more likely to explain their crimes using explanatory words like ‘because’, ‘since’ and ‘so that’.
Professor Jeff Hancock, the study’s first author, said:
“Previous work has looked at how psychopaths use language. Our paper is the first to show that you can use automated tools to detect the distinct speech patterns of psychopaths.”
Psychopaths were found to be less fluent in their speech, perhaps to frame their story in the most positive way possible.
The short answer to the above question is: of course not. If he or she is a considerate and apparently normal human who just happens to talk about food all the time, this study is obviously not cause to suspect secret psychopathic tendencies.
In fact, the study’s authors “caution that their analysis applies only to murderers relating the story of their own crimes,” and stress that their aim for the research was to uncover insights that might be of use to law enforcement.
Still, while it would be silly to suggest everyone who can’t stop talking about food, money, or sex is a psychopath, the results do offer another intriguing clue for those trying to sleuth out the possible pathology of their resident office jerk. If your suspected psychopath is verbally obsessed with the pleasures of the body or the balance of his bank account, this study gives you cause to count that as another strike against him–and another reason to steer clear or handle this person with extreme caution.