The term ‘psychopath’ is often thrown around with many people mainly being wrongly labelled as one.
Since legitimate psychopaths display a wide variety of characteristics it can be difficult to identify one because the process is long and very complicated.
Especially since psychopaths can be manipulative and put on a friendly front that conceals what is really going on underneath the facade.
There are plenty around though with it being estimated that there are currently around 300,00 – 400,000 in the UK – you could be sitting next to one this very minute.
Luckily scientists have now identified a very simple sign that could make identifying psychopaths a whole lot easier.
Research has revealed that being a psychopath has a strange effect on your sense of smell, apparently, psychopaths are unable to distinguish between certain scents, reports indy100.
Mehmet K. Mahmut and Richard J. Stevenson from the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia analysed how well 79 non-criminal psychopaths could smell common scents such fish, oranges and coffee in a recent study.
They discovered that the stronger the person’s psychopathic traits, which include manipulation, an erratic lifestyle and callousness, the more they struggled to distinguish between the aromas.
The scientists suggest that this could be because psychopaths normally have impaired functionality in the frontal parts of their brains which processes smells.
This frontal lobe also helps people plan, make decisions and control social behaviour.
The study said:
Our findings provide support for the premise that deficits in the front part of the brain may be a characteristic of non-criminal psychopaths.
Olfactory measures represent a potentially interesting marker for psychopathic traits, because performance expectancies are unclear in odour tests and may therefore be less susceptible to attempts to fake good or bad responses.
79 non-criminal participants completed the Self-Report Psychopathy scale and a standardised measure of olfactory ability, the Sniffin’ Sticks, measuring odour threshold, identification, and discrimination.
Consistent with predictions, we found a relationship between psychopathy and olfactory discrimination and identification but not odour threshold, even after controlling for gender, age, empathy, smoking status, and craniofacial surgery/injury.
These findings suggest that brain areas subserving higher olfactory processes—identification and discrimination—are somehow less efficient in individuals who score higher on psychopathic traits.
In particular, we suggest that this relates to processing within the orbitofrontal cortex.
Of course it is important to remember that a poor sense of smell doesn’t automatically mean someone is a psychopath, but it certainly is a warning sign.
Other warning signs are more bizarre including liking Justin Bieber’s music.
That’s right, a study suggested that if you like Bieber’s hits that include Boyfriend and What Do You Mean you are more likely to be a psychopath.
The research conducted by New York University psychology professor, Pascal Wallisch and recent graduate Nicole Leal, claims that Justin Bieber fans are psychopaths.
Giving 190 NYU students questionnaires with statements such as ‘for me what’s right is whatever I can get away with’ and ‘love is overrated’, after the survey was completed, the students listened to a series of songs, varying in genre and were asked to rate them on a scale from one to seven.
Wallisch and Leal then looked for correlations between their song preferences and scores on the test with What Do You Mean showing the largest correlation.
So if you know someone who is a fan of Bieber and has a bad sense of smell, you have been warned.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.