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.
Researchers from New York University (NYU) have found that people with psychopathic traits prefer listening to rap music.
The Researchers noted their findings are “very preliminary” as the team is at the very beginning of its work. NYU researchers conducted tests on 200 volunteers in the United States. Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” top the list for psychopaths’ favorite songs.
On the other hand, those with the least psychopathic tendencies tended to like the Knack’s “My Sharona” and Sia’s “Titanium”.
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. If psychopaths have distinct and robust preferences for songs, their playlists could be used to identify them.
“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. They might be working right next to you, and they blend in. They are like psychological dark matter,” said Pascal Wallisch who led the research.
Wallisch added: “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.”
Approximately one percent of the general population fits the description of a psychopath and about one in five prisoners are identified as having the psychological disorder.
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Wallisch stressed that the study was preliminary and unpublished – but hopes the initial findings will serve as a launch pad for a much larger study, where they can interview thousands of diagnosed psychopaths about their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.
The larger study is slated to investigate whether the connection between musical preference and psychopathy is legitimate. If proven valid, the study’s researchers intend to investigate whether particular groups of songs can determine if an individual’s psychopathic.