Revealed: The songs psychopaths love

A real-life psychopath is not as easy to spot as The Joker from Batman.
A real-life psychopath is not as easy to spot as The Joker from Batman. News Corp Australia

KNOWING all the lyrics to Eminem's "Lose Yourself" just took on a whole new meaning.

A new study compared volunteers' tastes in music with their scores on a personality test to see if there was any correlation between music preference and psychopathic traits, reports the New York Post.

There was - but it's less about genre and more about the song. And, unlike Hannibal Lecter, they're not listening to classical.

Researchers at New York University played 260 songs for 200 people and found that those with the highest psychopathic scores were big fans of Blackstreet's No Diggity and Eminem's Lose Yourself.

Meanwhile, volunteers who were fans of The Knack's My Sharona and Sia's Titanium had the lowest psychopathic scores.

The study is attempting to find a way to easily identify psychopaths without them knowing - which researchers say could help make sure they don't get to a position where they can abuse others, whether physically or emotionally.

"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," Pascal Wallisch, who headed the research, told The Guardian. They might be working right next to you and they blend in. They are like psychological dark matter."

Approximately one per cent of the general population fits the description of a psychopath and about one in five prisoners are identified as having the psychological disorder.

Anthony Hopkins as psychopath Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs.
Anthony Hopkins as psychopath Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs. Supplied

The volunteers were all young and educated but came from different ethnic and economic groups. Researchers had them take the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, a widely accepted personality test developed in 1995 designed to identify psychopathy.

Wallisch stressed that the study was preliminary and unpublished - but hopes the initial findings will serve as a launch pad for a much larger study, where they can interview thousands of diagnosed psychopaths about their taste in music.

He added that they actually found other songs that were more predictive of a psychopath, but won't reveal them in order not to compromise future research.

"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 co-operation or consent," said Wallisch. "The ethics of this are very hairy, but so is having a psychopath as a boss and so is having a psychopath in any position of power."

This story first appeared in the New York Post.

Topics:  eminem music sia

News Corp Australia

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