Mind & Body

Your Music Playlist May Reveal if You're a Psychopath or Not

A secret may be lurking deep within your Spotify playlists. And we're not talking about "Smooth" by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas popping up more than it should. According to a team of researchers, some of your favorite songs could reveal whether or not you're a psychopath. Be careful which tunes you tap your toe to ...

Playlist of the Lambs

In preliminary and unpublished research, a team from New York University found that, basically, Hannibal Lecter's love of classical music misses the mark (no word — yet — on the accuracy of Patrick Bateman's penchant for Huey Lewis and the News). For the study, 200 people listened to 260 songs. Those with the highest psychopath scores were some of the biggest fans of Blackstreet's "No Diggity." The most psychotic of the bunch also loved Eminem's incomparable "Lose Yourself." (Both are objectively really wonderful songs, thankyouverymuch.) Those with the lower psychopathy scores really dug The Knack's "My Sharona" and Sia's "Titanium."

Before you go snooping through your ex-boyfriend's most-played tracks on Spotify for "No Diggity" and "Lose Yourself," other songs had a greater predictive power of psychopathy. Research lead Pascal Wallisch didn't disclose the other songs for fear that it might skew the results of future tests. On second thought, maybe not the most comforting thought.

Psycho Screen

Kevin Dutton, an Oxford psychologist and author of "The Wisdom of Psychopaths," has been gathering data on musical tastes and other preferences for a psychopath study with UK broadcasting company Channel 4. More than three million people have responded to his online surveys so far. Though these surveys aren't perfect, the results suggest psychopaths prefer rap music to classical and jazz. The people with psychopathic traits are more likely to read the Financial Times than other newspapers. (Okay, major Patrick Bateman alert there.)

But take this information with a grain of salt. Dutton's research isn't without its flaws, and Wallisch's study is very preliminary. Wallisch plans to expand on this study to investigate whether the link between musical tastes and psychopathy really does exist. And if it does, he'd like to be able to understand how groups of songs can predict potential psychopaths.

"The beauty of this idea is you can use it as a screening test without consent, cooperation or maybe even the knowledge of the people involved," Wallisch told The Guardian. "The ethics of this are very hairy, but so is having a psychopath as a boss, and so is having a psychopath in any position of power." No diggity, no doubt.

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Want more psycho science? Check out Kevin Dutton's "The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success." The audiobook is free with a free of Audible. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Is Your Boss a Psychopath?

Written by Joanie Faletto October 16, 2017

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