You'll never believe this
Although movies prefer representing psychopaths as lovers of classical music, according to Pascal Wallisch, a psychology professor at New York University, and Nicole Leal, a recent graduate from the University, that may not be what they really like.
Wallisch, who led the research said that “The media portrays psychopaths as ax 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. “
According to science, there is already a way to identify certain psychopathic traits. Unfortunately, this can only be found in the analysis of a person’s genes. Furthermore, these traits are only more common in psychopaths, they do not gauge the disorder with certainty. All scientists can do is find whether some people have a tendency for empathy and aggression. Unfortunately, they can’t guess a person’s actions.
The two wanted to find out whether there was a certain correlation between psychopathy and various genres of music. They thought they could identify a personality disorder that is characterized by manipulativeness and a lack of empathy through music taste.
In their research, the scientific pair gave out a questionnaire that included questions such as “For me what’s right is whatever I can get away with” and “Love is overrated.”
The pair then played songs to the students from a variety of musical genres. They switched between classical music all the way to some recent hit songs. Meanwhile. The students were rating these songs on a seven-point scale.
Leal and Wallisch were looking for a connection between the students’ preference for certain songs or genres and the students’ scores on the scale for psychopathy. And although most of the pair had chosen were unfamiliar to the group of students, the scientists found around 20 songs that were scored particularly higher or lower on the scale. According to them, this ranking was dependent on the students’ psychopathy level.
Along with this test, they also gave the students a test with questions that rated their level of psychopathy. Afterwards, the scientists combined the answers from the music study, with the students’ results from the psychopath tests. This is how Wallisch found a few songs that were apparently popular among the psychopaths.
The results showed that the songs that had the highest correlation to psychopathy were:
Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean?
Blackstreet - No Diggity
Eminem - Lose Yourself
Additionally, according to the results, psychopaths also rated rap songs a lot higher on the scale than other genres. Which means that if your date starts singing along to a rap song on the radio instead of switching the station, you might want to get out of the car soon.
Furthermore, the songs that psychopaths liked the least were: Dire Straits’ 'Money for Nothing,' the 1956 country song 'Wayward Wind' and The Knack’s pop-rock song, 'My Sharona.'.
And although the scientists haven’t published this study in a peer-reviewed journal yet, they will be presenting it, along with the results, at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington this week. Furthermore, both Wallisch and Leal also said that they were still exploring the correlation between these top-rated songs to see whether they were related to the people who scored high on the psychopath test. They also added that they haven’t found a pattern quite yet.
The team from the New York University that conducted the research noted that even though these results are only preliminary, they were hoping that others would be intrigued enough to begin a study on a much larger scale, where thousands of people across the spectrum of psychology can be quizzed on their tastes in music.
Finally, a psychologist at Oxford, and the author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths, Kevin Dutton, has also been researching the correlation between musical tastes and a few other preferences for a psychopath study. So far, more than three million people have responded and the results suggest that psychopaths really do favor rap over classical or jazz music. Furthermore, they are also more likely to read the Financial Times than any other newspaper. Dutton said “The coming together of the dark, visceral, primeval psychopathic mind and the higher aesthetic of classical composition is inherently incongruous, and there is a whole body of literature on the creative potential of incongruity. It is the hypnotically captivating and age-old appeal of the ‘beauty and the beast’, only under the same cortical roof.”