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A new study from Cold Harbour Spring Laboratory argues that psychopaths may not be as intelligent as they're often depicted.
The adage goes that all psychopaths are geniuses (with the opportunity to turn this into a career as an "evil genius").
The common belief is to see it as a trade-off - he's brilliant yes, but also mad.
It also fits with belief also that highly successful people, such as CEOs and senior politicians, have psychopathic traits.
While traits may be accurate, such as superficial charm, lack of empathy, and manipulative, their intelligence may have nothing to do with their psychopathy.
Psychologists call this perception the "Hannibal Lecter myth"
The study, which is yet to be reviewed by peers, is a meta-analysis (read compilation) of 97 studies into the relationship between psychopathy and intelligence.
Considering results from over 9000 participants, the meta-analysis found that those who scored higher for psychopathic traits tended to score lower on measures of IQ.
They also suggested there could be subdivisions within psychopathy that explain the correlation (and the existence of the perception).
The classifies these divisions as "primary" and "secondary" psychopathy, the distinctions lie in their degrees of inhibition and their intelligence.
(Picture: Swalka 1991/YouTube)
The paper suggests countering the Hannibal Lecter myth is important not just for the sake of public perception, but how psychopaths are treated in the criminal justice system.
In particular presumed high intelligence and therefore accountability, can influence sentencing and the determination of mens rea by judges and juries.
HT IFL Science
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