When we think of psychopaths we often think of fictional characters like Patrick Bateman or Hannibal Lecter, but the truth of the matter is that these kinds of characters look just like me and you and could be hanging out with you all the time without your knowledge.
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That’s why the University Of New York are trying to establish a test to determine the characteristics of a psychopath and they’ve chosen to do this through the medium of music. They played a group of 200 people 265 different songs and recorded the results to find out if there was any link between psychopathy and the music that we choose to enjoy.
The results were apparently pretty shocking – the highest amount of psychopaths enjoyed ‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem and ‘No Diggity’ by Blackstreet, whereas the least psychopathic candidates chose The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ and Sia’s ‘Titanium’. I say this is shocking, because pretty much everyone I know thinks that No Diggity and Lose Yourself are complete and utter jams, and I’m fairly sure that not all of my friends are psychopaths. Fairly sure.
Pascal Wallisch led the research and admits that this is an oversimplification of the issue and these songs don’t necessary indicate psychopathic tendencies, but insists that the fact there is a pattern means there is scope for further research into the relationship. He said the following about about the importance of conducting such a study:
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. They might be working right next to you, and they blend in. They are like psychological dark matter.
You don’t want to have these people in positions where they can cause a lot of harm. We need a tool to identify them without their cooperation or consent.
The beauty of this idea is you can use it as a screening test without consent, cooperation or maybe even the knowledge of the people involved. The ethics of this are very hairy, but so is having a psychopath as a boss, and so is having a psychopath in any position of power.
This work is very preliminary. This is not the end of an investigation, it is the very beginning.
Can’t wait to see what Wallisch and his team come up with on this one, although I do agree the connotations for profiling off the back of such research is kinda terrifying. Not really sure if such findings should even be made public because of the trouble they could cause. Real talk.
For more psychopaths, check out the way this guy carries a pizza. Definite psychopath.