HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, suggest psychopaths are deeply attuned to vulnerable people.
"It's like what you'd see on the cable TV show 'Animal Planet,' the lion goes after the most vulnerable, the one they have the best chance of getting," lead researcher Kevin Wilson, a fourth-year science student, said in a statement. "This type of aggression is referred to as predatory ... it's a perceptual system geared to getting the easiest prey."
The researchers with Stephen Porter's Forensic Psychology Lab at Dalhousie showed slides of different faces to a sample of young men. The faces were either happy or sad, male or female, and described as being in either a high- or low-paying job.
The study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, found men who scored high on a psychopathic personality questionnaire -- a series of 187 questions probing emotional reactions and impulsivity -- possessed the unusual ability to recall sad females in low-paying jobs. At the same time, they also had an unusual inability to recall females who were happy or in high-paying jobs, nor were they good at putting names to faces.
"What we concluded is that psychopathy is associated with a kind of 'predatory memory,'" Wilson said. "They may use this to actively select their victims."