Test results suggest that the musical tastes of psychopaths may help indicate the presence of the disorder.
Can a playlist of a person's favorite songs reveal if they're a psychopath or not? Sounds strange, especially with the popular trope of the movie psychopath being fond of listening mostly to classical music. Researchers suggest that particular songs are most popular among those with the highest psychopath scores. Other songs, meanwhile, are most popular among the least psychopathic.
A psychopath isn't always a serial killer or a violent criminal. It's possible that you're working with one, or you may have spoken to one just yesterday, or you may even have a close personal relationship with one. A psychopath can appear normal, nice, even charming. Psychopathy isn't immediately obvious, at least not in many cases. However, looking at what someone likes to listen to may indicate to us that he or she may be a psychopath.
Not all those with psychopathic traits are violent, making them more difficult to identify.
Researchers from New York University say that their findings are as of now preliminary and unpublished, but they've made the results public. 200 volunteers participated in the study, in which they listened to 260 different songs. According to the findings, psychopaths may be m partial to rap, particularly to songs like Blackstreet's “No Diggity” and Eminem's “Lose Yourself”.
Participants with the lowest psychopath scores, meanwhile, were particularly fond of “My Sharona” by The Knack and “Titanium” by Sia.
“The media portrays psychopaths as axe murderers and serial killers, but the reality is they are not obvious; they are not like The Joker in Batman,” says lead researcher Pascal Wallisch. Thus, he and colleagues wanted to develop a way to suss out who among the population is a psychopath.
After all, looking for a psychopath is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. About 1% of the general population are psychopaths, though this percentage is higher in prisons. About one in five inmates in a psychopath. However, in the general public, a psychopath is much more difficult to identify.
But why look for psychopaths? “You don’t want to have these people in positions where they can cause a lot of harm,” said Wallisch. “We need a tool to identify them without their cooperation or consent.”
You can meet a psychopath anywhere without even realizing it.
The researchers may have found that “No Diggity” and “Lose Yourself” are popular among the psychopathic, but they also found other songs that may be more predictive of the disorder. However, they won't be identifying which songs are those for now. The researchers may conduct other screening tests in the future, and revealing these songs may taint the results.
One thing you may be wondering now is how ethical this is. Is it ethical to diagnose and brand someone a psychopath without their willing participation in their own diagnosis? Wallisch himself admits that the ethics of the study are “hairy”. “[B]ut so is having a psychopath as a boss, and so is having a psychopath in any position of power,” Wallisch explains.
That sounds a little like whataboutism, and it's not really reassuring. However, the study is still in the preliminary stages, so the researchers have time to iron out the kinks. Hopefully they'll remember that even psychopaths—especially functioning, non-violent ones—have their rights, too.
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