Our ideas of what makes a person a psychopath is often based on Hollywood’s depictions. Some of us may think of a psychopath as someone who is morally corrupt and has trouble connecting with others. Others may associate this terminology with violence. Still, it’s best to have a clear understanding of what the professionals have to say on the matter.
Here are the things to watch out for if you suspect someone is a little off.
1. They’re immune to yawning stimuli
In a study published by Personality and Individual Differences, researchers gave 135 undergraduates the task of completing a questionnaire meant to assess their levels of psychopathic traits. Afterward, the participants were given three videos to watch in a random order — one had a person with a neutral face, one was of a person laughing, and the third was of a person yawning. While the participants watched the videos, the researchers closely monitored their faces, looking for minute facial muscle activity.
The results of the survey showed something very interesting: The participants who had scored higher in coldheartedness, a psychopathic trait involving emotional detachment, were less likely to be affected by the contagious yawning stimuli. Psychology Today explains coldheartedness is also associated with lacking empathy and having a “callous unconcern for the feelings of others.” This is just one piece to the entire picture, of course. But if you’re interested in testing out how potentially psychopathic someone is, you might want to try yawning in front of them.