We’ve seen them in movies or television shows, if not encountered them in real life – Psychopaths, those mentally unstable, violent individuals who are highly selfish and self-serving. They willingly hurt those around them without any regard for their well-being, doing whatever it takes to further their own personal agenda.

Their common personality traits include callousness, lack of empathy, shallow emotion, lack of remorse or guilt, irresponsibility, and a tendency to manipulate and exploit others for their own personal gain.

Often portrayed as the ‘villain’ in our favorite movies, we’ve developed a clear image of how we picture them. The socially awkward loner with the stone-cold face, eyes that could cut through you like a laser with their cold and hate-filled gaze.

There is some truth to the Hollywood portrayal. While it is estimated that only 1% of the world would meet the diagnostic requirements for psychopathy, researchers have discovered that psychopaths are far more likely to commit violent crimes, like murder, than their counterparts, especially those that are deemed to be premeditated.

One smaller point that Hollywood often gets terribly wrong, however, is the topic of a new study. When we see a psychopath portrayed in the media today, they are often seen listening to classical music, quietly ruminating on the dark and twisted thoughts that occupy their minds. However, a research team out of New York University reveals that is likely not what they would be listening to at all. In fact, their findings reveal the music choices of psychopaths couldn’t be any further from this stereotype!

The team worked with more than 190 psychology students at the University, seeking to understand if there was a pattern between where they would rate on the psychopathy scale in relation to the type of music they preferred to listen to. First, they asked all participants to complete a survey, rating them on their level of psychopathy. They then asked all participants to listen to a wide variety of different genres and styles of music, ranging from classical to top 40, asking them to rate each song on a 7-point scale. This data was compared to their psychopathy rating an interesting trend was discovered.

The most popular songs among psychopaths were Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’ and Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself,’ closely followed by Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean.’ Meanwhile, the songs that they rated the lowest included Dire Straits’ ‘Money for Nothing,’ the country tune ‘Wayward Wind’ and the Knack’s ‘My Sharona.’

Pascal Wallisch, who led the research project, stated, “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.”

While the study’s findings are certainly fascinating, Wallish says that they aren’t enough to draw a solid conclusion yet, let alone enough to use this data to predict the level of psychopathy in people around us. A larger study is now set to further investigate this link, confirming the team’s findings and seeking to build upon them with the goal of identifying a small group of songs that, together, can prove to be effective in predicting psychopaths.

Image via IFL Science

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