We all have personality quirks that show through in our language. Little “tics” that are unique to only us – sometimes showing in slang, other times filler words or sentence structure. And a group of scientists believe they can use these language quirks to not only identify certain personality traits, but to identify psychopaths in the general tweeting population.
Researchers from Cornell University and the university of British Columbia are using a text analysis program to determine if a tweet can give away psychopathic behavior. They’re also looking at other forms of written social communication, like blog posts and status updates.
They want to know whether psychopaths in the general population can be identified based on what they post on social networks.
There are specific verbal clues that psychopaths give away when they speak, which the researchers believe can be found in text as well.
For instance, words like “because” and “since” appear in a higher frequency of psychopathic language than the norm. Psychopaths also tend to focus on material things, like money, and talk less about family and religion. And when dealing with emotional descriptions, psychopaths use “uh” and “um” frequently, indicating an inability to face and discuss their emotions.
The researchers believe they can measure the frequency of words like those above in even as little as 140 character sound bites, by calculating percentages of the whole and comparing it to the norm.
Their study, entitled “Hungry like the wolf: A word-pattern analysis of the language of psychopaths,” will be published in the Legal and Criminological Psychology journal.