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#12058 - 10/19/11 08:30 PM Psychopaths’ words expose predatory mind
Dianne E. Offline

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CORNELL (US) — Psychopathic murderers use words that reveal selfishness, detachment, and emotional flatness, according to a new study that used computer analysis to identify speech patterns.

The research, reported online in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology, could lead to new tools for diagnosis and treatment, and perhaps have applications in law enforcement.

“Our paper is the first to show that you can use automated tools to detect the distinct speech patterns of psychopaths,” says Jeff Hancock, professor of communication at Cornell University. This can be valuable to clinical psychologists, because the approach to treatment of psychopaths can be very different.

Researchers compared stories told by 14 imprisoned psychopathic male murderers with those of 38 convicted murderers who were not diagnosed as psychopathic.

Each subject was asked to describe his crime in detail; the stories were taped, transcribed, and subjected to computer analysis.

A psychopath, as described by psychologists, is emotionally flat, lacks empathy for the feelings of others, and is free of remorse. Psychopaths behave as if the world is to be used for their benefit, and they employ deception and feigned emotion to manipulate others.

The words of the experimental subjects matched these descriptions. 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.

Psychopaths are predators and their stories often include details of what they had to eat on the day of their crime, writes co-author Michael Woodworth, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Psychopaths were more likely to use the past tense, suggesting a detachment from their crimes—and tended to be less fluent in their speech, using more “ums” and “uhs.” Researchers speculate that the psychopath is trying harder to make a positive impression and needs to use more mental effort to frame the story.

The researchers caution that their analysis applies only to murderers relating the story of their own crimes, and suggest further studies of speech patterns in more neutral situations, such as telling a neutral story from the subjects’ past or describing an incident shown to them on video.

It might be possible for law enforcement to screen suspects if some social media text were available. Knowing a suspect is psychopathic could inform strategies for pursuit or interrogation, Hancock suggests.

“These findings on speech begin to open the window into the mind of the psychopath, allowing us to infer that the psychopath’s world view is fundamentally different from the rest of the human species,” the researchers conclude.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The Study

Purpose.  This study used statistical text analysis to examine the features of crime narratives provided by psychopathic homicide offenders. Psychopathic speech was predicted to reflect an instrumental/predatory world view, unique socioemotional needs, and a poverty of affect.

Methods.  Two text analysis tools were used to examine the crime narratives of 14 psychopathic and 38 non-psychopathic homicide offenders. Psychopathy was determined using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). The Wmatrix linguistic analysis tool (Rayson, 2008) was used to examine parts of speech and semantic content while the Dictionary of Affect and Language (DAL) tool (Whissell & Dewson, 1986) was used to examine the emotional characteristics of the narratives.

Results.  Psychopaths (relative to their counterparts) included more rational cause-and-effect descriptors (e.g., ‘because’, ‘since’), focused on material needs (food, drink, money), and contained fewer references to social needs (family, religion/spirituality). Psychopaths’ speech contained a higher frequency of disfluencies (‘uh’, ‘um’) indicating that describing such a powerful, ‘emotional’ event to another person was relatively difficult for them. Finally, psychopaths used more past tense and less present tense verbs in their narrative, indicating a greater psychological detachment from the incident, and their language was less emotionally intense and pleasant.

Conclusions. These language differences, presumably beyond conscious control, support the notion that psychopaths operate on a primitive but rational level.

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#12059 - 10/19/11 08:37 PM Re: Psychopaths’ words expose predatory mind [Re: Dianne E.]
Dianne E. Offline

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Know anyone who talks about food and money too much? They could be a psychopath
By Daniel Bates

If someone you know uses the past tense and likes to talk about what he eats, then beware - he or she could be a psychopath.

Researchers have identified the speech patterns which are the tell-tale signs somebody could be the next Hannibal Lecter.

Those who use verbal stumbles like ‘um’ and ‘ah’ should be treated with caution whilst anybody showing a lack of emotion could be trouble too.

Other tics which should be of concern are focusing attention on basic needs like food and money or speaking about crimes in the past tense.

The researchers found that psychopaths use twice as many words for basic needs such as eating and drinking - a reflection of the psychopathic world view that everything is 'theirs' to take.

The researchers claim that whilst we are able to choose which words we use in day-to-day speech, we unconsciously choose functional words like ‘the’ or the tense of the verbs or the vocabulary sets we use.

With careful analysis these cues can show us who is a psychopath and who isn’t.

The study involved interviews with 52 convicted murderers, of whom 14 were classified as psychopaths.

Their responses were analysed in detail by a computer programme which looked for patterns in what they said.

Jeffrey Hancock, the lead researcher and an associate professor in communications at Cornell University in New York, said that overuse of the past tense demonstrated psychological detachment.

The use of dysfluencies like ‘uh’ and um’ was also a way of ‘putting the mask of sanity on’.

He added: ‘Psychopaths talked a lot about what they ate that day (of the murder). They talked about money more often.’

Overall psychopaths use twice as many words relating to basic needs like eating and drinking as ordinary people.

This fitted in with their world view that everything around them was theirs to take, the authors said in their report.

Psychopaths also used more subordinating conjunctions like ‘because’ which is explained by their interest in cause and effect.

The report says: ‘This pattern suggested that psychopaths were more likely to view the crime as the logical outcome of a plan (something that 'had' to be done to achieve a goal)’.

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#12077 - 10/23/11 08:05 PM Re: Psychopaths’ words expose predatory mind [Re: Dianne E.]
Dianne E. Offline

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How to spot psychopaths: Speech patterns give them away

By Wynne Parry
LiveScience

Psychopaths are known to be wily and manipulative, but even so, they unconsciously betray themselves, according to scientists who have looked for patterns in convicted murderers' speech as they described their crimes.

The researchers interviewed 52 convicted murderers, 14 of them ranked as psychopaths according to the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, a 20-item assessment, and asked them to describe their crimes in detail. Using computer programs to analyze what the men said, the researchers found that those with psychopathic scores showed a lack of emotion, spoke in terms of cause-and-effect when describing their crimes, and focused their attention on basic needs, such as food, drink and money.

While we all have conscious control over some words we use, particularly nouns and verbs, this is not the case for the majority of the words we use, including little, functional words like "to" and "the" or the tense we use for our verbs, according to Jeffrey Hancock, the lead researcher and an associate professor in communications at Cornell University, who discussed the work on Monday (Oct. 17) in Midtown Manhattan at Cornell's ILR Conference Center.

"The beautiful thing about them is they are unconsciously produced," Hancock said.

These unconscious actions can reveal the psychological dynamics in a speaker's mind even though he or she is unaware of it, Hancock said.

What it means to be a psychopath

Psychopaths make up about 1 percent of the general population and as much as 25 percent of male offenders in federal correctional settings, according to the researchers. Psychopaths are typically profoundly selfish and lack emotion. "In lay terms, psychopaths seem to have little or no 'conscience,'" write the researchers in a study published online in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology.

Psychopaths are also known for being cunning and manipulative, and they make for perilous interview subjects, according to Michael Woodworth, one of the authors and a psychologist who studies psychopathy at the University of British Columbia, who joined the discussion by phone.

"It is unbelievable," Woodworth said. "You can spend two or three hours and come out feeling like you are hypnotized."

While there are reasons to suspect that psychopaths' speech patterns might have distinctive characteristics, there has been little study of it, the team writes.

How words give them away

To examine the emotional content of the murderers' speech, Hancock and his colleagues looked at a number of factors, including how frequently they described their crimes using the past tense. The use of the past tense can be an indicator of psychological detachment, and the researchers found that the psychopaths used it more than the present tense when compared with the nonpsychopaths. They also found more dysfluencies — the "uhs" and "ums" that interrupt speech — among psychopaths. Nearly universal in speech, dysfluencies indicate that the speaker needs some time to think about what they are saying.

With regard to psychopaths, "We think the 'uhs' and 'ums' are about putting the mask of sanity on," Hancock told LiveScience.

Psychopaths appear to view the world and others instrumentally, as theirs for the taking, the team, which also included Stephen Porter from the University of British Columbia, wrote.

As they expected, the psychopaths' language contained more words known as subordinating conjunctions. These words, including "because" and "so that," are associated with cause-and-effect statements.

"This pattern suggested that psychopaths were more likely to view the crime as the logical outcome of a plan (something that 'had' to be done to achieve a goal)," the authors write.

And finally, while most of us respond to higher-level needs, such as family, religion or spirituality, and self-esteem, psychopaths remain occupied with those needs associated with a more basic existence.

Their analysis revealed that psychopaths used about twice as many words related to basic physiological needs and self-preservation, including eating, drinking and monetary resources than the non psychopaths, they write.

By comparison, the non psychopathic murderers talked more about spirituality and religion and family, reflecting what non psychopathic people would think about when they just committed a murder, Hancock said.

The researchers are interested in analyzing what people write on Facebook or in other social media, since our unconscious mind also holds sway over what we write. By analyzing stories written by students from Cornell and the University of British Columbia, and looking at how the text people generate using social media relates to scores on the Self-Report Psychopathy scale. Unlike the checklist, which is based on an extensive review of the case file and an interview, the self report is completed by the person in question.

This sort of tool could be very useful for law enforcement investigations, such as in the case of the Long Island serial killer, who is being sought for the murders of at least four prostitutes and possibly others, since this killer used the online classified site Craigslist to contact victims, according to Hancock.

Text analysis software could be used to conduct a "first pass," focusing the work for human investigators, he said. "A lot of time analysts tell you they feel they are drinking from a fire hose."

Knowing a suspect is a psychopath can affect how law enforcement conducts investigations and interrogations, Hancock said.

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#13108 - 04/25/12 06:44 PM Re: Psychopaths’ words expose predatory mind [Re: Dianne E.]
Dianne E. Offline

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Psychological manipulation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basic Manipulation and tactics of Psychopaths

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