Psychopaths are attracted to other psychopaths
New psychological research suggests that psychopaths are attracted to others with their same disposition.
- A study found that people with psychopathic traits are more likely to be attracted to others on the same psychopathic spectrum.
- Psychopathic qualities include lack of empathy, lack of remorse, and other antisocial traits.
- Psychopathic traits aren't that attractive to non-psychopathic individuals.
There's nothing in our society that rings more alarm bells than the prospect of psychopathic behavior. These traits are the most undesirable qualities a person can have. Impulsive, cold, removed and more likely to commit aggressive and antisocial acts, the image of a psychopath breeds fear among many people.
Yet, not all psychopaths are murderers and the dregs of society. Although many psychopathic individuals are looked at with fear, many psychologists believe that this view is unwarranted. Many psychopathic traits are prevalent in CEOs who run and dominate their industries. There is also no evidence that psychopaths are more likely to be violent criminals. Still the fear persists, as much as society is repulsed by psychopaths, they're also intrigued by them too.
Who doesn't love the somewhat well meaning serial killer killer... Dexter. And let's not forget about all those cheaters on Tinder with more pronounced psychopathic traits.
Maybe they're just looking for love too — with other psychopaths that is.
Which brings us to the point of a new study suggesting just that.
Study shows psychos like other psychos
Christian Bale in American Psycho
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality in April, by researchers at Emory University, it was found that psychopaths are, indeed, attracted to others who had psychopathic tendencies. Others with non-psychopathic dispositions of course did not find the majority of these traits attractive.
The study — titled "Do Psychopathic Birds of a Feather Flock Together?" — consisted of 696 men and women from diverse ethnic backgrounds. They were asked to report on what they were looking for in a potential partner they wanted to date. The people in the study were also asked to report on whether or not they wanted a short-term or long-term relationship.
Seventy characteristics from the DSM-5 personality disorders classification system were given to them in a list. The participants also rated themselves as well.
Researchers found that many participants liked Factor 1 psychopathic traits which included superficial charm, lack of empathy, and manipulation, better than Factor 2 traits which included impulsivity and irresponsibleness. But when it came to romance, these psychopathic traits were rated much lower.
Other participants with higher measures of psychopathy found those with higher levels of psychopathic traits more apt as a romantic partner.
It was also found that males in the study had more interest in psychopathic traits in women than females did with men.
The researchers stated:
"Our findings suggest that although absolute preferences for psychopathic traits are low on average, individuals with marked psychopathic features and [personality disorders] features more generally are more inclined than others to endorse a romantic preference for psychopathic individuals, at least in the abstract."
There were some limits to the study as a lot of this was in the hypothetical realm of dating.
Psychopaths and the ‘like attracts like’ hypothesis
Some psychologists like Susan Krauss Whitbourne believes that the reputation psychopaths get from regular people could be a symptom of the "like causes like" phenomenon. Additionally this could be responsible for the inverse. She states:
People who themselves score high on measures of psychopathy should be far less likely, if at all, to stigmatize those who share their personality traits.
It's generally thought that, in an ironic way, there is actually an empathetic relationship between two psychopaths.
It's also been found that those with other dark personality traits share a similar inclination to one another. For example, sadistic people, narcissists, and so on are more likely to understand and be attracted to one another.
Concluding their study, the researchers stated:
"To a large extent, our findings support a 'like attracts like' hypothesis for psychopathic traits."
UPDATE Saturday, November 3: A previous version of this story had instances where the word "psychotic" was used inaccurately.
Stopping psychopaths while they're still young
Join Radiolab's Latif Nasser at 1pm ET on Monday as he chats with Malcolm Gladwell live on Big Think.
University of Utah research finds that men are especially well suited for fisticuffs.
- With males having more upper-body mass than women, a study looks to find the reason.
- The study is based on the assumption that men have been fighters for so long that evolution has selected those best-equipped for the task.
- If men fought other men, winners would have survived and reproduced, losers not so much.
Built for mayhem<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjY2NDIyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzk4NTQ2OX0.my6nML12F3fEQu3H4G0BScdqgaMZkRQHxgyj-Cmjmzk/img.jpg?width=980" id="906fc" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd77af7a881631355ed8972437846394" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Ollyy/Shutterstock<p>The researchers are, of course, talking averages here, not stating a rule: There are plenty of accomplished female pugilists, as well as lots of males who have no idea how to throw a punch.</p><p>Even so, says co-author <a href="https://www.wofford.edu/academics/majors-and-programs/biology/faculty-and-staff" target="_blank">Jeremy Morris</a> says, "The general approach to understanding why sexual dimorphism evolves is to measure the actual differences in the muscles or the skeletons of males and females of a given species, and then look at the behaviors that might be driving those differences."</p><p>Carrier has been interested in the idea that millennia of male fighting has shaped certain structures in male bodies. Previous research has reinforced his hunch:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/2/236" target="_blank">When a hand is formed into a fist, its structure is self-protective</a>.</li> <li><a href="https://unews.utah.edu/flat-footed-fighters/" target="_blank">Heels planted firmly on the ground augment upper-body power</a>.</li> <li><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24909544" target="_blank">A study examined facial bone structure as being especially well-suited for taking a punch</a>.</li> </ul> <p>(That last one is our favorite. Do you know the German word "<a href="https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Backpfeifengesicht" target="_blank">backpfeifengesicht</a>?" It's an adjective describing "a face that badly needs a punching.")</p><p>"One of the predictions that comes out of those," asserts Carrier, "is if we are specialized for punching, you might expect males to be particularly strong in the muscles that are associated with throwing a punch."</p>
Testing the theory<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjY2NDIzMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzMxMTE2MH0.UXJICMy57UPYUWskhK98alctOrPidJL9yxMkz3HDQrM/img.jpg?width=980" id="98718" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b12287684ac3e740b70392e6433a6b8f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Ollyy/Shutterstock<p>The researchers measured the punching — and spear-throwing — force of 20 men and 19 women. The assumption was that early humans were punchers <em>and</em> spear-throwers.</p><p>Prior to testing, each participant had filled out an activity questionnaire so that "we weren't getting couch potatoes, we were getting people that were very fit and active," says Morris.</p><p>For punching, participants operated a hand crank that required movement similar to throwing a haymaker. The purpose of the hand crank was to spare participants any damage that might be inflicted on their fists by throwing actual punches. Subjects were also measured pulling a line forward over their heads to assess their strength at throwing a spear.</p><p>Even though all of the participants, male and female, were routinely fit, the average power of males was assessed as being 162% greater than females. There were no gender differences in throwing strength recorded. Other untested, though presumably likely, hand-to-hand combat activities come to mind including tackling, clubbing, running, kicking, scratching, and biting.</p><p>Carrier's takeaway: "This is a dramatic example of sexual dimorphism that's consistent with males becoming more specialized for fighting, and males fighting in a particular way, which is throwing punches."</p>
Boys will be boys<p>It, er, strikes us as odd that, even in science fiction — hi-tech weaponry notwithstanding — the hero <em>is</em> going to wind up duking it out with some bad guy, or alien, in the climactic battle. What is it about men punching, anyway? Are they more sexually attractive? The study suggests so:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>The results of this study add to a set of recently identified characters indicating that sexual selection on male aggressive performance has played a role in the evolution of the human musculoskeletal system and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in hominins.</em></p><p>It's tough to contribute to the gene pool after being killed in battle.</p><p>Also, while the authors aren't <em>quite</em> saying that males' historical fighting role is mandated by biology and not by social expectations, neither are they quite <em>not</em> saying it.</p><p>As Carrier explain to <a href="https://attheu.utah.edu/facultystaff/carrier-punch/" target="_blank">theU</a>: "Human nature is also characterized by avoiding violence and finding ways to be cooperative and work together, to have empathy, to care for each other, right? There are two sides to who we are as a species. If our goal is to minimize all forms of violence in the future, then understanding our tendencies and what our nature really is, is going to help."</p>
Innovators don't ignore risk; they are just better able to analyze it in uncertain situations.
The Labour Economics study suggests two potential reasons for the increase: corruption and increased capacity.
Cool hand rebuke<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTIyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjY1NTYyOH0.0MCPKN3If94mYCNf3mMNrnTvJXjXN_bKLhgk9203EXk/img.jpg?width=917&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0&height=453" id="1627b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6d76421ba1ea0de4b09956b97e80c384" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A chart showing prison population rates (per 100,000 people) in 2018. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.