Megan Gannon via LiveScience
New research suggests we may be able to sniff out psychopaths by their poor scores on a smell test.
In the study, psychologists at Macquarie University in Australia tested the noses of more than 70 college-age participants, all without criminal records. The researchers had the subjects try to identify common odors (like orange, coffee and leather) and distinguish between different scents.
The participants then were given personality tests to check for their level of empathy and psychopathic tendencies. For example, the subjects were asked to rate on a 5-point scale how much they agreed with statements such as: “I purposely flatter people to get them on my side;” “People sometimes say that I’m cold-hearted;” and “I have broken into a building or vehicle in order to steal something or vandalize.”
The researchers reported a correlation between a poorer sense of smell and psychopathic personality traits.
They say this makes sense because previous research has shown that people with such traits have decreased function in the brain’s frontal lobes, a region associated with impulse control and acting in accordance with social norms — and dysfunction in that part of the brain is associated with an impaired sense of smell.
- Psychopaths Have Poor Sense of Smell, Study Finds (livescience.com)
- Do You Have a Poor Sense of Smell? Congrats, You Are a Psychopath. [Psychopaths] (gawker.com)
- Psychopaths have poor sense of smell, study finds (cbsnews.com)
- Mental Health News: Psychopaths have terrible senses of smell (medicalstaffingnetwork.wordpress.com)
- Psychopaths have poor sense of smell: researchers (smh.com.au)
- ‘Psychopaths’ have an impaired sense of smell, study suggests (sciencedaily.com)
- Psychopaths have terrible senses of smell (wnd.com)