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- American film and television screenwriter, director, and producer
If you feel like you’re constantly surrounded by psychopaths, it may be that you live in the wrong city. New research measured which areas of the country are home to the individuals with psychopathic personalities and found that the Northeast hosts a larger percentage of these individuals, with Washington, D.C., and Connecticut housing the most.
The study was conducted by Ryan Murphy, a research assistant professor at Southern Methodist University in Texas. In the paper, which hasn't been peer-reviewed yet, Murphy used data on state personalities that had previously been collected in a 2013 study that estimated regional differences in personalities. The prior research used five separate samples of individuals to create an idea of the average temperament of individuals from a specific region. Using this data, Murphy then estimated psychopathy levels state by state.
“These results are the first estimates we have, to the best of my knowledge, on the degree of psychopathy found in each state," Murphy told Newsweek.
The true definition of a psychopath is hard to pin down, as the term has been misrepresented by TV and movies so many times. However, today, psychopathy refers to an extension of antisocial personality disorder. This is characterized by traits such as lack of empathy, selfishness and superficial charm, The University of North Texas reports.
The study focused on the “Big Five” personality traits as a measurement of ranking for the psychopathic personality. This measured an individual’s neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion, conscientiousness and openness to experience, Inc. reported.
According to the new research, residents of the District of Columbia scored highest for measurements of psychopathy. The state with the highest psychopathy score, however, was Connecticut. Following Connecticut, the next top observations of psychopathy were California, New Jersey, and a tie of New York and Wyoming for fifth.
Murphy told Newsweek that he suspected a number of factors played a role in the variety of psychopathy we see in the results. “My own speculations would be that the urban/rural distinctions drive a lot of the variation, and the historical distribution of cultures within the United States have a lot to do with it as well,” he said.
Certain placing seemed to match previous notes on psychopathy. For example, according to previous research by Murphy, individuals with more psychopathic personality traits enjoy the political sphere. This may explain Washington, D.C.’s high score, the study reported.
Although the number of individual psychopaths is quite low, understanding the general personality of a geographic area can be useful. However, Murphy noted he was not able to establish a relationship between these results and higher homicide rates—so don’t worry too much if you call the Constitution state your home.
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