How to spot a psychopath on social media
At almost exactly this time last year we published an article about how to spot a psychopath at work, in which we reported about a new tool that purports to analyze written text and reveal the level of narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies of the writer.
So, it’s only fitting (Is there something about January and this topic?) that a new study has just been released that suggests another way to spot narcissists and psychopaths, though in this case only male ones: check for a habit of posting selfies online.
The report from Ohio State University shows that men who post more photos of themselves than of other people on social media like Facebook and Instagram scored higher on measures of narcissism and psychopathy.
“In addition, men who were more likely to edit their selfies before posting scored higher in narcissism and self-objectification, which measures how much they prioritize their appearance,” says the Ohio State website.
“It’s not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies and spend more time editing them are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study,” Jesse Fox, lead author of the study, is quoted as saying. “The more interesting finding is that they also score higher on this other anti-social personality trait, psychopathy, and are more prone to self-objectification.”
Don’t freak out if you notice some of the men in your life posting a lot of selfies. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re psychopaths, they might just be vain or self-obsessed, which is not great either but less bad.
They all scored within the normal range of behaviour, it’s just that the selfie posters had “higher than average levels of these anti-social traits.”
For the study, 800 men aged 18 to 40 answered questions about their social media behaviours, as well as questions that screen for anti-social traits. They were also asked whether they edit their photos before posting by cropping, adding filters, or using editing software in other ways.
While posting more photos was correlated to narcissism and psychopathy, psychopathy was not related to editing the photos, which Fox says “makes sense” because psychopathy is related to impulsivity, and impulsive people aren’t going to take the time to edit their pictures.
The study didn’t include women but Fox is conducting a follow up and says that study already suggests the same correlation between selfie posting and narcissism and psychopathy applies to women.