Leadership and Psychopathy: Human Behavior

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This finding helped reach the conclusion that psychopaths do not have the same as normal people would do for others. Shows how psychopaths do not have the same sense of emotional responses to regular people do, who show the lack of empathy. This study helped show that psychopaths lack the ability to show concern. Not having emotional responses that other people may be beneficial because it would be easier for them not to be intertwined in interpersonal relationships and let them focus on their goal. However, the way they process emotions may be beneficial in leadership not only in this way, but also in the way it contributes to their ability to easily manipulate others in their position of authority.

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Another study was made by S. Williamson, T. J. Harpur, and R. D. Hare which was focused on Abnormal processing of affective words by psychopaths. They were testing to see if emotive words would have an effect on psychopaths as it would for normal people. Emotive words get a faster reaction out of non-psychopathic people and they are able to identify with it on an emotional level because of experience with emotional experience. However, psychopaths tend to lack gaining any emotional experience at all, so this study will help with finding out if they will react the same way non-psychopathic people would.

The participants were prison inmates and split into two groups and were given a computer-based task and had electrodes for recording brain responses attached to their heads and connected to an EEG machine, which draws a graph of the electrical activity of the brain . On the screen, either real words, such as TREE, non-existing words, such as RETE, or real words with emotive language, such as DEATH. Whenever a real word came up on screen, the participants were told to push a button as quickly as possible and the computer would measure the time it takes you to make the decision while also analyzing your brain responses while carrying out the task.

The results showed that both groups showed a normal pattern of responses to the task, but the non-psychopathic inmates would press faster when an emotive real word came up and would have larger brain responses rather than to the normal real words. However, the psychopaths did not show any difference in speed or brain response for emotive real words and responded to them the same as they would for the normal real words. For example, when the word CANCER came out on the screen, the non-psychopathic participants clicked faster, for it had brought up a sense of fear, concern, and even disturbing mental images of the disease, however, for psychopaths, the word was just a word .

The limitations for this experiment is that the amount of participants, race and genders are unknown and the experiment is hard to replicate in different environments if there is no computer involved. Also the ethics of this is unknown, for the study did not state whether they got each participant’s consent or if they were forced into participating in the experiment. Also, the relationships with the participants and the researchers were unknown, therefore, making the study less reliable. However, the strength of this experiment is that it is valid because it did what it was set out to do and can represent the population of psychopaths and how they are unable to instantly feel empathy for others. The applications for this is not used in daily lives, however, it can be used to help support or debunk other theories about empathy within psychopaths.

From the study, This suggests that psychopathic ASPD do have the cognitive capacity to spot and understand the emotions of the speaker or listener, but don’t show concern or interest to the holder. This shows that majority of those with ASPD and psychopathy have their ToM intact and the key deficits are correlated more with their lack of concern than the inability to take the victim’s perspective. The conclusion of this study is that they have the capacity to understand others empathically. Furthermore, because they are able to understand others unlike non-psychopathic people, this leads to them being able to use empathy in a manipulative manner to achieve their goal in an authoritative position. Therefore, They have the capacity to show empathy, but this study shows that their concern levels are lower, therefore, backing up the idea that they use empathy for manipulative purposes as an authoritative figure. 

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