The Economist on Psychopathy

on November 19, 2010 in Psychology by

Last week, The Economist looked at a study by Elsa Ermer and Kent Kiehl of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque on what makes people psychopaths. The article includes one of the better definitions of psychopathy that I’ve seen:

Past work has established that psychopaths have normal levels of intelligence (they are only rarely Hannibal Lecter-like geniuses). Nor does their lack of guilt and shame seem to spring from a deficient grasp of right and wrong. Ask a psychopath what he is supposed to do in a particular situation, and he can usually give you what non-psychopaths would regard as the correct answer. It is just that he does not seem bound to act on that knowledge.

It then describes how the researchers used the Wason Card Test to test the differences in the understanding of social contracts by psychopaths and non-psychopaths.

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