Experts reveal why psychopaths 'are good for society'

Researchers have made the disturbing claim that psychopaths can actually benefit society.

Experts at the University of Plymouth in the UK concluded that, despite their violent tendencies, psychopaths can make the difficult decisions that others may struggle with.

The team carried out tests to see if people would sacrifice one person to save a larger group if they had the choice.

Characters such as Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman from American Psycho could actually be good for society. Source: Getty
Characters such as Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman from American Psycho could actually be good for society. Source: Getty

They then compared how they answered to how they actually behaved in moral dilemmas and found that all were more likely to carry out a harmful action against one person to save a bigger group.

However, psychopaths were more like to carry out this harmful behaviour with even greater force – meaning they found it less of a moral quandary to make the decision.

Psychopaths are more likely to carry out immoral behaviour with greater force when needed. Source: Getty
Psychopaths are more likely to carry out immoral behaviour with greater force when needed. Source: Getty

Psychopathic traits are characterised by antisocial behaviour and less empathy – meaning a decision to sacrifice one person over many others is easier.

“This study opens up the possibility to assess psychopathy using novel virtual reality technology – which is vital to better understand how and why people with these behavioural traits act in certain ways, said Dr Sylvia Terbeck, lecturer in Social Psychology and co-author of the study.

Psychopaths such as Hannibal Lecter have far less empathy according to the study. Source: Getty
Psychopaths such as Hannibal Lecter have far less empathy according to the study. Source: Getty

Dr Kathryn Francis, now a postdoctoral research fellow in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Reading, added: “This research highlights our proneness to moral inconsistency; what we say and what we do can be very different.

“For the first time, we demonstrate how personality traits can influence the physical power of our moral actions.”

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