Identifying Psychopathic Killers By Their Own Word Choices

ShiningVia ScienceDaily:

As words can be the soul’s window, scientists are learning to peer through it: Computerized text analysis shows that psychopathic killers make identifiable word choices — beyond conscious control — when talking about their crimes.This research could lead to new tools for diagnosis and treatment, and have implications law enforcement and social media.

The words of psychopathic murderers match their personalities, which reflect selfishness, detachment from their crimes and emotional flatness, says Jeff Hancock, Cornell professor of computing and information science, and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology.

Hancock and his colleagues analyzed stories told by 14 psychopathic male murderers held in Canadian prisons and compared them with 38 convicted murderers who were not diagnosed as psychopathic. Each subject was asked to describe his crime in detail. Their stories were taped, transcribed and subjected to computer analysis.

Psychopaths used more conjunctions like “because,” “since” or “so that,” implying that the crime “had to be done” to obtain a particular goal. They used twice as many words relating to physical needs, such as food, sex or money, while non-psychopaths used more words about social needs, including family, religion and spirituality. Unveiling their predatory nature in their own description, the psychopaths often included details of what they had to eat on the day of their crime.

Read more here.

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  • V.

    cant say bomb on a plane :O

  • V.

    cant say bomb on a plane :O

  • DeepCough

    Well, then by the argument of this article, Hannibal Lecter is not a psychopath because he has an outstanding vocabulary. Glad we cleared that up.

    • Andrew

       Actually it means Thomas Harris and Ted Tally aren’t psychopaths.

    • Asistoed

      Most psychopaths “seem” to have great vocabulary, and therefore come off as intelligent people, unless you actually listen to one such speak, closely, Since you´ll figure out that it´s (in the most extreme cases I know), just a word salad, made from fancy words. Accompanied circular logic and rephrasing. Which is perfect method of communicating if your final goal is either a) selling shiny things, like used cars.  Or b) Enjoy hearing yourself talking, But not so much to give any useful info to others you talk to :)

  • DeepCough

    Well, then by the argument of this article, Hannibal Lecter is not a psychopath because he has an outstanding vocabulary. Glad we cleared that up.

  • Andrew

     Actually it means Thomas Harris and Ted Tally aren’t psychopaths.

  • Hadrian999

    let’s use this to analyze political speeches and campaign debates

  • Hadrian999

    let’s use this to analyze political speeches and campaign debates

  • Lee

    I don’t think psychopaths are real if you actually get into the science of it… it’s super vague…

    • quartz99

      I’m gonna guess you’ve never had to deal with one then. The Hollywood sensational stereotype probably doesn’t exist, but there are definitely people not capable of empathy who do not relate to emotion in what we would consider the usual way. That doesn’t make them all bad people, but they’re hell to deal with, especially when they’re family, and since they can be entirely functional and even highly successful, they fail to see any reason to get treatment, leaving all of the burden for having to deal with them on everyone but themselves.

  • Lee

    I don’t think psychopaths are real if you actually get into the science of it… it’s super vague…

  • Redacted

    Since I was eating a pastrami sandwich while reading this, so that I really think they may be on to something. Anyway time to murder some more hobos.

  • Anonymous

    Since I was eating a pastrami sandwich while reading this, so that I really think they may be on to something. Anyway time to murder some more hobos.

  • Simiantongue

    Oh please. As if putting up with all those horrendous horror movies weren’t bad enough, now the world of academia has to step into the fray. Masked people walking around hacking young nubile college coeds apart with whatever comes to hand in the most horrible sloppy manner. Simply Hollywood propaganda! When in fact there are very many in the psychopathic community dedicated to ensuring that our clients experience the least amount of discomfort possible. Not all psychopaths want to extend the experience to ridiculous lengths of time, endlessly staring into your eyes whilst you slip away into darkness, you know! A few bad apples maybe, and predictably they’re the ones who get all the attention in the press too.

    Now this “supposed” science, clearly aimed at denigrating the psychopathic community. It’s common knowledge that prison populations, and their respective education and intelligence levels, are not accurate representations of any demographic groups in larger society. The most this study says is that computerized text analysis shows that psychopathic killers “IN PRISON” make identifiable word choices; beyond conscious control, when talking about their crimes. Of course the reason they are probably in prison in the first place is because they are not too bright to begin with, hence easily captured. We can see how this research is using a biased subset of the psychopathic community to fit preconceived notions about the predictability of psychopathic speech patterns. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t moved beyond this type of bias even in the 21st century.

    Sincerely

    Suspect 0

  • Simiantongue

    Oh please. As if putting up with all those horrendous horror movies weren’t bad enough, now the world of academia has to step into the fray. Masked people walking around hacking young nubile college coeds apart with whatever comes to hand in the most horrible sloppy manner. Simply Hollywood propaganda! When in fact there are very many in the psychopathic community dedicated to ensuring that our clients experience the least amount of discomfort possible. Not all psychopaths want to extend the experience to ridiculous lengths of time, endlessly staring into your eyes whilst you slip away into darkness, you know! A few bad apples maybe, and predictably they’re the ones who get all the attention in the press too.

    Now this “supposed” science, clearly aimed at denigrating the psychopathic community. It’s common knowledge that prison populations, and their respective education and intelligence levels, are not accurate representations of any demographic groups in larger society. The most this study says is that computerized text analysis shows that psychopathic killers “IN PRISON” make identifiable word choices; beyond conscious control, when talking about their crimes. Of course the reason they are probably in prison in the first place is because they are not too bright to begin with, hence easily captured. We can see how this research is using a biased subset of the psychopathic community to fit preconceived notions about the predictability of psychopathic speech patterns. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t moved beyond this type of bias even in the 21st century.

    Sincerely

    Suspect 0

  • Anonymous

    I’m gonna guess you’ve never had to deal with one then. The Hollywood sensational stereotype probably doesn’t exist, but there are definitely people not capable of empathy who do not relate to emotion in what we would consider the usual way. That doesn’t make them all bad people, but they’re hell to deal with, especially when they’re family, and since they can be entirely functional and even highly successful, they fail to see any reason to get treatment, leaving all of the burden for having to deal with them on everyone but themselves.

  • Asistoed

    Most psychopaths “seem” to have great vocabulary, and therefore come off as intelligent people, unless you actually listen to one such speak, closely, Since you´ll figure out that it´s (in the most extreme cases I know), just a word salad, made from fancy words. Accompanied circular logic and rephrasing. Which is perfect method of communicating if your final goal is either a) selling shiny things, like used cars.  Or b) Enjoy hearing yourself talking, But not so much to give any useful info to others you talk to :)

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