A Strange Childhood Trait Linked To Psychopathy

Posted on November 22, 2017

Photo: pexels

A research study published in the journal Current Biology finds that boys with psychopathic tendencies have less desire to fit in with the laughter of other children.

Remember the saying, "laughter is contagious"? Apparently, unlike most children and adults, this is not the case for boys at risk of psychopathy. Brain scans showed that these boys had a lower response to the laughter of others.

Professor Essi Viding, the author of the study, does however put out a disclaimer. He asserts that it is "not appropriate to label children psychopaths" and that "psychopathy is an adult personality disorder". However, "we do know from longitudinal research that there are certain children who are at a higher risk for developing psychopathy, and we screened for those features that indicate that risk", he goes on to say.

A more obvious trait also linked to developing psychopathy in later life is, being callous and unemotional. Children who were reported to have this trait, along with disruptive behavior, were also reported to have less desire to join in with the laughter of others. Scans revealed that their brains also worked in a different way, in terms of reduced brain activity in areas linked to joining in with others. It was later explained in the study that children at risk of developing psychopathy experience the world in a different way to the rest of us.

In the Professor's words: "Those social cues that automatically give us pleasure or alert us to someone's distress do not register in the same way for these these. That does not mean that these children are destined to become antisocial or dangerous; rather, these findings shed new light on why they often make different choices from their peers. We are only now beginning to develop an understanding of how the processes underlying prosocial behavior might differ in these children."

This study is available here.


Category(s):Adult psychological development

Source material from PsyBlog


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