TechPsychopaths can be identified by head movements. New AI tool developed by scientists may provide breakthrough

Psychopaths can be identified by head movements. New AI tool developed by scientists may provide breakthrough

Psychopaths may be betrayed by head movement
Psychopaths may be betrayed by head movement
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12:27 AM EST, January 21, 2024

The scientific team from the University of New Mexico developed an innovative tool leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. This tool could prove to be incredibly helpful in identifying psychopaths, as it picks up on specific behaviors characteristic of people with psychosis.

A new tool to identify psychopaths developed by scientists

During a series of experiments published in the "Journal of Research in Personality", the researchers studied the behaviors of 507 adult male prisoners during interviews. A specialized machine learning program enabled them to observe that prisoners exhibiting more psychopathic traits tended to keep their heads still.

Each interview lasted one to four hours, and the head movement tracking algorithm processed at least 36,000 frames for each subject. The algorithm emphasized six reference points on the face. To detect potential psychopathic tendencies, the researchers also utilized the "Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised," a test that evaluates interpersonal, emotional, and lifestyle-related traits.

The test grades 20 different criteria on a scale of up to 40 points. A score of 25 points or above suggests a high level of psychopathic traits. In the USA, this threshold is set at 30 points.

The study noted that individuals with more psychopathic traits tended to move their heads less. People fitting this description usually have steadier heads, often directed straight at the camera or interviewer. Although scientists aren't entirely sure of the reasons behind this behavior, they have several theories, one of which concerns the function of the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for processing emotions – as it relates to psychopaths.

According to the "Journal of Research in Personality", "nonverbal behavioral signals related to psychopathy may partially reflect the neurobiological basis of the disease, as well as resulting, in part, from conscious and vigorous interpersonal manipulations." The scientists highlight that the malfunctioning of the amygdala is a key neurobiological feature of psychopathy, impacting emotion processing, learning, and interpersonal interactions.

The experts from the University of New Mexico acknowledge that their tool has some limitations. The tool wasn't tested on women or teenagers – only adult males were studied. Furthermore, the algorithm does not track eye movements, a significant factor in such research. Therefore, the researchers plan to continue their studies and enhance the algorithm with additional functionalities, such as observing non-verbal, subconscious behaviors like hand gestures or the manner of speaking. This development should enable even more precise identification of psychopaths.

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