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Inside the Mind of a Sociopath

05.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin
Inside the Mind of a Sociopath

Antisocial personalities consider other people to be just like themselves

The US National Academy of Sciences has published the latest study by an international group of researchers on the study of the personality and beliefs of antisocial personalities, or sociopaths.

Antisociality is a negative attitude towards the social norms or standards of behaviour and the desire to oppose them. Antisociality differs from asociality since with the latter the individual refers to social norms with indifference and lack of understanding and does not seek to oppose them.

The study was conducted based on the principles of behavioural economics and personality psychology, where the beliefs and behaviours of sociopaths were studied in detail. A group of participants was asked to play a game of trust, in which they could deceive others freely.   

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Trust is the expectation that a person or group will act in our best interests and not to our detriment, even when we are vulnerable and cannot control them.

Trust games show how people interact with typical behaviour patterns. For example, in the Evolution of Trust game, each participant has a choice: to trust or to cheat (if you put in a coin, the opponent will take three, and vice versa). If you think logically, then cheating is more profitable. If you are deceived, then at least you are not in the red, but if your opponent puts in a coin, you are in positive territory. However, in the long run, it turns out that cheaters quickly cease to trust, and pairs of people who trust each other win. 

The experiment game showed that sociopaths are convinced that others think and act in the same way as them. Antisocial personalities have a pronounced tendency to betray the trust of others, but at the same time, they do not like it when someone undermines their trust. If a sociopath has been cheated and has the power to punish the cheater, he will gladly do it. The sociopath himself is only kept from doing bad things by fear of severe punishment. If within the framework of social interaction, a sociopath is in an advantageous position and can avoid punishment for “bad” behaviours, he/she will manipulate and exploit others. However, when the punishment is real, the behaviour of antisocial individuals is not much different from the behaviour of other people.