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Twitter Can Detect Psychopaths

So if you're corresponding with someone online who uses certain words and phrases, cut off the contact--FAST! There are more of these folks around than you might suspect. This might also be something to pay attention to when you evaluate political candidates.

An earlier study revealed that psychopaths use more "justifying" conjunctions like "because," "since" and "so that." They also use twice as many words relating to physical needs such as food, sex or money, while non-psychopaths use more words about social needs such as family and spirituality. Psychopaths are also more likely to use the past tense as well as more "ums" and "uhs."

A company called "Kaggle invited data scientists to submit models that could analyze people's twitterfeeds. Over 100 teams submitted over 1,000 models to that they claimed could detect psychopaths through Twitter usage.

Each of the models analyzed more than three million tweets from a set of over 3,000 tweeters from 80 countries, using a checklist developed by a Canadian psychologist. In addition to volunteering to have their tweets analyzed, participants took a personality test, which rated them from 1-5 for 8 different traits, one of which was psychopathy. Around 41 users were identified as certifiable psychopaths, and everyone else fell into a spectrum.

On Forbes.com, Kashmir Hill quotes Chris Sumner, from the Online Privacy Foundation, as saying, "Just because someone scores highly doesn't mean they're criminally minded. Using this to try to spot someone who's going to commit a crime is going to result in catching people who aren't going to. But in general it's interesting. You can use it to look at large groups of people and ask: Are we becoming more antisocial?"

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