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The studies that have been conducted have suffered some major limitations, such as being comprised mostly of undergraduates, being focused mainly on females, or being specifically focused on psychopathic characteristics and ignoring the larger umbrella of personality disorders more generally. In a new study , Ashley Watts and colleagues overcame some of these prior limitations to investigate whether people are especially attracted to psychopathic characteristics, and whether there are individual differences in such attraction.

The researchers had both an undergraduate sample as well as a community sample of males and females report on their own personality and then had them construct their ideal mate for different types of relationships from a list of 70 characteristics drawn from well-validated criteria for psychopathy and diagnostic criteria for a wide range of personality disorders.

What did they find? Are People in General Attracted to Psychopathy? In general, people did not find psychopathic characteristics particularly attractive for any form of relationship -- whether it was a date, a short-term relationship, or a long-term relationship. Across the board, expressed preferences for psychopathic traits were low, exceeding on average no more than 4 on a 1 to 10 scale. With that said, some psychopathic characteristics were considered relatively more attractive than others.

On average, people found traits relating to Self-Centered Impulsivity especially unappealing relative to traits relating to Fearless Dominance. While popular accounts of attraction to psychopaths have focused on women, there was no evidence for a gender difference in attraction to psychopathic characteristics. Both males and females on average were about equally unimpressed with psychopathic characteristics in a potential romantic partner.

The findings support a "like attracts like" hypothesis for psychopathic traits. For both female undergraduates and men and women in the larger community, those with higher levels of psychopathic characteristics were more attracted to those with psychopathic characteristics. Those with higher levels of traits associated with Self-Centered Impulsivity were particularly likely to find psychopathic traits attractive in a mate, and it was this particular factor of psychopathy that carried the unique variance in predicting romantic preferences. Is Attraction to Psychopathy Limited to Psychopathy?

It wasn't just psychopathy that predicted attraction to psychopathy. Many standard personality traits, such as antagonism, low conscientiousness, disinhibition, and psychoticsm, also predicted a preference for psychopathic characteristics. These findings call into question sexual selection evolutionary theories of psychopathy, which argue that psychopathy may have evolved as a short-term mating strategy for men to attract women. For one, as already noted, psychopathic females and psychopathic males were about equally likely to report interest in potential mates with psychopathic features.

Is there a Difference Between Undergraduates and Adults? There were some important differences between the female undergraduates and community sample, which speak to the importance of age and perhaps gender in explaining these overall trends. For one, female undergraduates significantly preferred males with high as opposed to moderate or low levels of psychopathic traits for a date, and there was more of a preference for mates with callousness traits and a lack of remorse compared to those in the community sample.

Preferences for the low psychopathy prototype increased, however, with the duration of the relationship, with a low psychopathy mate much more preferred for a long-term relationship. For the community sample, an average disinterest in mates with psychopathic traits was consistent across all different relationship types. Also, the ties between personality disorder features and a preference for personality disorders in romantic partners were more pronounced among the community members relative to the female undergraduates. The researchers opine on the implications of these findings:. Although females may express a preference for psychopathic males in principle, such enthusiasm may dwindle or even disappear following either a direct or vicarious negative romantic experience.

Moreover, the undergraduate dating culture may possess unique characteristics e.. Indeed, research shows that female's attraction to Dark Triad traits tend to decrease with age , and for both men and women, psychopathic characteristics are a strong predictor of divorce.

Of course, there are some limitations of these studies. It's possible that stated mate preferences do not predict ultimate choices. However, while there is some evidence for a distinction between mating preferences and actual behavior in a speed dating context , recent research on a wider age range and over a longer period time suggests that stated preferences may in fact predict the characteristics of partners.

Also, these findings are consistent with other studies showing that participants with maladaptive traits in general rate others with maladaptive traits more favorably , or at least are more willing to settle for these characteristics in potential romantic partners. Nevertheless, as the researchers point out, future research should examine real-world settings to better understand how psychopathic traits unfold in short-term and long-term relationships.

I'd also like to see further studies consider some of the other individual differences that have been proposed to explain the attraction to psychopaths, such as a caretaking personality, a drive for fame, or a history of abuse. They also rated their attachment style along the dimensions of anxiety fear of abandonment and avoidance inability to get close to others.


All couples were heterosexual, so the design of the study allowed the researchers to examine the effects of the male partner on his wife, and vice versa. The authors could compare, then, the strength of the relationship from "actor" to "partner" in comparison to the strength of the relationship from "partner" to "actor. Would, when the dust cleared from these comparisons, there be an effect of actor A on partner B, and vice versa?

Would this hold true for both men and women? The actor-actor effects showed that for men, but not women, higher levels of primary psychopathy at the time of the first test insensitivity predicted higher levels of attachment avoidance at time of the second test. Men also showed stronger relationships across time between primary psychopathy and attachment-related anxiety, meaning that the more psychopathic men also expressed greater fear of intimacy. For both men and women, though, the secondary psychopathic traits engaging in antisocial acts predicted greater attachment-avoidance and anxiety over time.

The antisocial women may have caused their male partners to feel more afraid of rejection, more dependent, and more emotionally unstable. Not necessarily. Savard, C. Subclinical psychopathic traits and romantic attachment in community couples: A dyadic approach. Personality And Individual Differences, We often don't frame psychopaths in a romantic context, which is ironic because some of those who we frame in a romantic context have psychopathic tendencies unknown to us.

This was illuminating. Thank you for writing it SW.

Psychopathic traits are usually only attractive to other psychopaths — here's why

Thanks for your thoughts. This article does a good job pointing out that rarely and I mean very rarely do we find full-blown psychopaths. It does a good job pointing out that it is more grey area than that, instead we have varying degrees of psychopathic behavior. Honestly the term 'psychopath' has been seriously cheapened to mean anyone who does something that people think as unacceptable, like a spree killer.

In my opinion, we find true psychopaths showing tendencies in all areas of life so rarely it's probably better just to go with the anti-social personality label. There is an interesting study proposing that borderline personality disorder may be the phenotypic expression of psychopathy in women. The two conditions are not the same expression at all. The only reason why they may be linked is some of the features are the same. There is fundamental differences between the two. For one thing, BPD is fundamentally different in that it is unstable, in terms of emotions.

A classic 'psychopath' is not unstable in terms of emotions, it is more baseline toward not having any empathy or positive emotions toward others. You're not going to find psychopaths alternating between love and lack of caring. People with BPD exhibit what may be thought of as irrational care about the way others perceive them, they measure self-worth by perceived others reactions.

Psychopaths do not really significantly care how others perceive them.

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People with BPD desire love and intimacy, which psychopaths often do not. The only similarities between the conditions is the behavior, and occasionally dissociation. The fundamental difference is in the thinking of people with BPD and anti-social personality disorder psychopathy.

Finally, psychopathy is thought to be largely genetic, so social influence does not really factor into it. Psychopathy is, according to Dr. We investigated the hypothesis that the interplay between the two psychopathy factors F1 and F2 is associated with BPD among women across two studies. The interpersonal-affective F1 and impulsive-antisocial psychopathy F2 scores, measured with self-report and clinician-rated indices, respectively, were entered as explanatory variables in regression analyses to investigate their unique contributions to BPD traits.

Across two independent samples, results indicated that the interaction of high F1 and F2 psychopathy scores was associated with BPD in women. This association was found to be specific to women in Study 1. These results suggest that BPD and psychopathy, at least as they are measured by current instruments, overlap in women and, accordingly, may reflect gender-differentiated phenotypic expressions of similar dispositional vulnerabilities.

So, I see this as a plausible theory, that women express Psychopathy somewhat differently due to gender differences both biological and cultural and that what we are currently calling Borderline PD can be considered a sub-type of or perhaps on the spectrum of Psychopathy. In my case: I knew that I felt the emotions that people evoked in me but they were scary just like the rest of my emotions.

Just like anyone can get into the routine of anything harmful that is monetary, I got into the routine of everything being handed to me without work, being told I was amazing, being told I was talented, being told that everything would be okay if I trusted in God, being raised in a very intolerant home for personal expression, having low self esteem from bullying, etc. I also starting to hunger for attention. I started putting a lot of effort into art and music among other hobbies that could impress people because I found joy in getting told I was great instead of being great and I henceforth based my worth on appearing amazing instead of being the best I could be.

What it took for me to catch myself in this? If my girlfriend wasn't patient of me through this process, I would be trying to lead a cult right now just like the other guy. I truly didn't deserve the patience I got from my soul mate but she helped me see our relationship from her perspective despite all of the lies I came clean about. The truth set me free. Sociopaths place the importance of holding on to their lies and image above others because they can't face the idea of losing their fake reputation or being caught in their lies because they fear no one will be around if they do because they're just too messed up for anyone to actually love without the sugar coated truth.

Sociopaths have the same root of issues as everyone else, except it effects them and the people around them more intensely and they stretch those root issues out further than the general crowd. BPD is sometimes is worse than the narcissistic psychopathic partner. The DSM needs to connect the 2 as they are almost identical in clinical description.

How are these two the same? Very different in the dynamics played out within an intimate relationship. This inquisition is admirable and reasonable, but I can say from professional experience that this is not the case that I have seen. But, I have witnessed a dichotomy of possibilities stemming from the overbearing, borderline-type wife in relation to the male counterparts; A either they become more sullen, ill, with a more frequent tendency to have violent thoughts, or B feel more guilty often placing more effort into the relationship.

Irrespective of the direction the man has gone emotionally through this dichotomous and contingent attempt to help himself and the relationship, both have proved unsuccessful. My professional opinion as to why is as follows. Thus, he takes blame regardless if he fully understands or believes the guilt to be true, whether circumstantially or perceptually the fact that he does or does not believe he's truly to blame is not contingent upon the desire to perpetuate the relationship. If a person feels guilty then a sense of control is lost and the female psychopath will establish further dominance.

I will also add that during which cases the male has become violent as a result of the female's relentless promiscuity, manipulation, lies, etc. No male or female, that I've witnessed have obtained psychopathy as a result of the ongoing relationship with a psychopath. In my experience, 35 yrs. I've seen, in unprofessional experience, that many psychopaths especially the type who promote a fictitious version of themselves in order to develop relationships they can exploit have a similar flavor of bad English.

Obviously you haven't had much education, training, experience or involvement with true psychopaths. Perhaps you'd like to meet my ex? He will certainly school you, and then screw you in so many more ways than one.

Why Does The Pain Linger? The Aftermath Of Loving Psychopaths And Sociopaths | HuffPost Life

He's very charming. Kiss your money, career, family and everything you hold dear goodbye. Male or female, old or young, his victims don't matter as long as they're available to meet his ever deviant sexual needs, but he really loves the victims who are rich. In fact, if you are wealthy and have one foot in the grave you're all the more appealing to him.

Just let me know and I'll give you his number After you two meet and you are thoroughly "charmed" and have had great sex it'll end as soon as you're hooked you can be one of his faithful "flying monkey minions" too. Here's a few words of advice in case you do fall in love with him or just have a passionate one nighter - secure your bank accounts and lock up your valuables, credit cards and social security number, etc and that's only because he loves a challenge. Oh, but what if he's caught, you ask? Too bad, he's already used his kids trust money to buy off legislators and judges.

They're all enthralled by him and totally appreciate all the payoffs. Then they're satisfied that they've completely destroyed you and they can focus more on the other victims. But for me the best thing of all would be to see you completely change your smug, superior, know it all and do I detect misogynistic attitude? Jeepers Wally, you're just his type! Have FUN! If done, such study will probably arrive at the following results: healthy men leave, co-dependent men stay and get worse. There is no such thing as the ameliorating effect of a healthy personality on a borderline Psychopaths might think they "love" in their distorted sense of the word, but they really like the high they get from their newest victim.

They like what they see in that victim and they want it for themselves. When we use the term psychopath, what we actually mean is all the people who lie on the borderline personality disorders. You need to understand that not all pd patients are psychopaths to the extreme degree. There is a lot of grey area in between. By creating prejudices from our or somebody else's past experiences we cannot rule out a person's ability to feel..

If you know somebody who might have borderline pd you need to get them checked. It will help them to understand themselves and others to deal with them. Joanna Moore, I find you statement highly impulsive, cold and distant. This implies that you have psycho tendencies.

Lack of empathy and rationality. As an individual who finds it hard to bear others pain you seem to be the type that just ignores the emotions of others. I have a close friend who struggles with his psychosis, and wishes that he could feel what everyone myself included have told him normal emotions feel like. His inability to feel a true connection to people. I hope you take the time to consider not all people are born with mentally and physically perfect bodies. And not to bash those who fight to stay above the tide. Psychosis and psychopathology are NOT the same thing.

Psychopath isn't even in the DSM - anti social pd is - along with other cluster B disorders. I personally consider those all psycho-pathologies. But they are all in touch with reality and understand right from wrong. Psychosis - a state of losing touch with reality - such as those who suffer from schizophrenia are deserving of empathy and treatment - many for example end up homeless. They do not set out purposely to exploit and harm others for personal gain the way psychopaths do -without a shred of remorse or care for their actions.

They do not experience emotional distress to seek help and treatment - which is what deems them basically untreatable. The term "psychopathic personality disorder" is referring to the cluster B personality disorders Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Anti-Social Personality Disorder I assume, otherwise this is a neologism. I was married to a psychopath for nine years. After the second year, my self-esteem was crushed. But two years before I divorced him, I started going to counseling.

At the end I got the guts I had been terrified of him to ask him why had he treated me so bad. He said because he wanted to. Because these people are so detached from their feelings, with their mouth they can say all they want that they don't care about you, but it affects them deep inside. I divorced him and I spoke to a friend a few years later and she said she worked with him That he lost like 25 lbs in a year.

It's a misnomer to believe that psychopaths are made of stone, even if they go into a relationship seeking to control the other party. I was told when the psychopath I almost got involved with was hurt by me rejecting him due to his own actions that it was his ego that was hurting and wasn't an emotional reaction. However, I know our separation did have an impact and that the callousness he displayed when we had conversations about a relationship wasn't the whole truth.

However, Clara, as people who aren't psychopathic, to think that necessarily a psychopath who gets hurt from the bad experience will change as a result is probably wrong. I read somewhere that we, who ask ourselves that question, are not psychopaths ourselves. Probably since we ask ourselves that question in the first place. Having learned that psychopaths are especially drawn to empathetic victims, I'd guess the chances are slim for the rest of us being psychopaths. I'm sorry but I think this is fallacious.

Why should a cell system with that type of personality disorder not be able to compare itself to the criteria and say "yes they fit"? Psychologists don't always control which parts of the brain light up either.. It's basically like knowing you are an asexual: you heard others feel that "need", their behaviours prove it , and therefore you know there is something you don't feel. And there's a certain word from it. I think that thinking discredits all the psychopaths and narcissists who realize that they are abnormal and work on being a better person, and you are throwing stones in the way of those who want to because you are falling for a lie.

I know this wasn't your attention, I just want to point out that I believe it's wrong, although you could be on to something with what you say in the second paragraph. I think a psychopath who works on it is "better" and less sick than someone who doesn't, but that doesn't mean they aren't a psychopath at all. The development of these disorders will be based on two things: nature and nurture. Bad parenting: being neglectful of the infant or spoiling the infant will sometimes push the child into mental illness. What's going to determine which mental illness the child will acquire unconsciously will be determined by their temperament.

Melancholies mixed with cholerics tend to become psychopaths. Sanguines mixed with cholerics tend to become narcissists. Because sanguines love attention and cholerics tend to be users. Melancholies don't care if they're liked. It seems to me that when you know the findings of the study and look at your partner like a "case" you are already a psychopath. And if you are a cluster B failure or anyone who FAILS at attaching correctly you know entering a relationship is the dumbest thing you can do to yourself--you are just going to be a difficult abuser who owes the other person something anyway.

Since you are naturally irresponsible you don't want even more crimes on your guilt list. It creates a set of rules: "must be always smile, must love work, must have a parter and talk about feelings -after all you also talk about poop at the proctologist's, but remember that you are emotionally abusive if the feelings aren't positive- and must have sex.

But not too mucch!!! Their feelings no longer count. They are not real people anymore. They are not seen as individuals with feelings anymore, because everyone is so busy finding the correct DSM labels and be the nerdiest nerd on the block. They must be brainwashed so they think and feel like everyone else, or else they must live with the fact that everyone with some psychological knoweledge will label them as bad. If they don't want to change and believe in their own way in this compliacted world, it's just a symptom anyway.

A partner will obviously lose all respect for them, and communication is no longer necessary outside of an "I read this about you in the DSM, so change yourself! A partner who sees her or his parter as a case of cluster B will employ manipulative strategies in this case called "tools" that the couple's therapist gives them in the same cold manner that "psychopaths" manipulate them. I believe the "difficulty" of being with a "difficult person" becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. You do find mistakes in a partner when you just look closely enough. Your relationship IS hard, hard work if you always expect it to be.

Then you claim the role of the courageous wounded victim and -if you are a woman- talk about your psycho idiot to your girlfriends, with some scientific spice. If not, others will do this for you and yur self pity will drag you down. You also find them in yourself which is why people who identify as BPD or any other illnes are often so annoyingly self-depracating. Looking at it from a sociologial point of view, cluster B individuals are subhumans and nothing else. In some European countries they are entitled to euthanazia. I don't say it is bad to label people and to rate and analyze their personality in a way that makes only the best of our specias earn respect.

For ACTUAL humans whose personality, identity, thoughts, feelings and choices are seen as their "free will" as "part of them" and are respected by the sientific community it's great One day there will only be completely healthy idividuals and everyone else will be treated with caution and will either be working hard against their nature, or be in prison. However, sometimes I wish people would take a minute and realize what it's like when you are a failure.

Why psychopaths cannot love their own children, according to a psychologist - discussion