The secret sign to spot a psychopath

There’s apparently one way you can spot any psychopath you might come across in your day-to-day life – although it might not be very easy to implement.

Psychopaths are better at learning to lie, according to a new study published in Translational Psychiatry. Psychopaths might not have a better natural ability to lie, but they’re better at learning how to do it, according researchers from the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at The University of Hong Kong.

Dr Tatia Lee and Dr Robin Shao tasked 52 participants with giving a series of truthful or false responses about whether they recognised people in a collection of photos. Some of the photos were of people they knew, and some weren't.

Of the 52 participants, 23 showed low levels of psychopathic traits, while 29 showed high levels of psychopathic traits thanks to a previous assessment questionnaire on psychopathy.

They all repeated the exercise after participating in a training session, and the researchers found that those with high psychopathic traits were much better and being able to lie quicker than they were before the practice.

Simnply put, those with psychopathic traits took less time to respond when told to lie.

Lee explained:

During lying, the 'true' information needs to be suppressed and reversed. Thus, lying requires a series of processes in the brain including attention, working memory, inhibitory control and conflict resolution which we found to be reduced in individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits.

These results, Lee said, shows just how good psychopaths are at learning to lie:

The stark contrast between individuals with high and low levels of psychopathic traits in lying performance following two training sessions is remarkable, given that there were no significant differences in lying performance between the two groups prior to training.

High psychopathy is characterised by untruthfulness and manipulativeness, but the evidence so far was not clear on whether high-psychopathic individuals in the general population tend to lie more or better than others. Our findings provide evidence that people with high psychopathic traits might just be better at learning how to lie.

HT Eureka Alert

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