How to Identify Psychopaths on Twitter

Social media users tend to reveal a lot more about themselves than they realise. A look at your Facebook profile can reveal a lot about your personality, and...

Social media users tend to expose a lot more about themselves than they realise. A look at your Twitter profile can reveal numerous personality traits and academic studies suggest that you can get to within 10% of a person’s personality score based on their Facebook profile alone.

Chris Summers at #Measure13

This is valuable information for recruiters who are vetting candidates, but can potentially be used to identify Psychopaths. At Social Media Measurement and Monitoring 2013, Chris Sumner gave a talk entitled Predicting Dark Triad Personality Traits from Twitter usage and a linguistic analysis of Tweets.

During his talk, Chris outlined the 20 traits of Psychopaths and suggested how these can be spotted on Twitter:

  1. Glibness/ superficial charm
  2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
  3. Pathological lying
  4. Conning / manipulation
  5. Lack of remorse or guilt
  6. Complete lack of empathy
  7. Failure to accept responsibility
  8. Need for stimulation
  9. Parasitic lifestyle
  10. Poor teamworking skills (and regularly changing jobs as a result)
  11. Lack of realistic long term goals
  12. Impulsive
  13. A history of irresponsibility
  14. Poor behavioural controls
  15. Early behaviour problems
  16. Juvenile delinquency
  17. Tendancy to skip bail
  18. Promiscuous sexual behaviour
  19. Lots of short-term relationships
  20. Criminal versatility

So how can this be applied to Twitter? Using social media monitoring tools to pull in data from the Twitter API, you can gain some fascinating insights.

Linguistics is particularly revealing. Users who score high for psychopathy are likely to use a lot of swear words, as well as anger words (hate, kill, annoyed). Also more common were words associated with death, negative emotions and filler words (blah, imean, youknow).

At the other end, they were much less likely to use words associated with positive emotions like ‘love’, ‘sweet’ or ‘nice’. They were also unlikely to mention family members, rarely use words that indicate teamwork (we, us, our) and talk negatively about work.

Although the total number of tweets reveals very little, the frequency of tweeting is a significant indicator. Erratic tweeting indicates impulsiveness and as such, psychopaths are more likely to tweet in short sharp bursts.

You can view the video of Chris’ talk below.

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  1. Links of the week: How to lose friends and alienate people online | LEWIS PR Reply

    […] Personality Traits from Twitter usage and a linguistic analysis of Tweets, has gained a lot of attention on the speaking circuit based on the study, which analyses psychopathic behaviour. How’s that for a creative […]

  2. Scott Dougall Reply

    If you have a body of content from a variety of people is there a tool that will analyse it and pick out the psychopath/sociopath ?