Remember the great horror film ‘Psycho’ by Alfred Hitchcock? The movie shows a man with a fractured psyche, possessed by his dead mother, killed a guest. The murder was later solved by a forensic psychiatrist. The psychoanalysis, unraveling of the mystery, the suspense – all is pretty good to watch. But, the lives are not spared, especially in such incidents in real life. Just consider last Friday’s incident in Colorado where a gunman entered a movie theatre screening the new Batman movie, killed 12 people and left another 50 injured. If the psychopaths can be identified by beforehand, many lives can be saved.
A new research, to be presented on this year’s DEFCON next week, shows that psychopaths can be identified by analyzing social media usage pattern of people. The research specifically analyzed Twitter streams of people to identify different personal traits of people including –psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism. This is the first public study that tries to identify psychopaths based on their social media behavior. The study can help law enforcing agencies identify and expose “Psychopath killers’ traits”.
The research has been carried out by Chris Summer, an information security professional and co-founder of Online Privacy Foundation, and Randall Wald, a data mining and machine learning researcher at Florida Atlantic University.
The duo has used open source technologies to identify psychopathic traits using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R). The study compared “self-assessment ‘Dark Triad’ (Psychopathy, Machiavellianism, Narcissism) and ‘Big Five’ (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism) personality traits with the Twitter information, usage and language of 2927 participants” to explore the extent to which this method can be applied without error. The results found statistically significant correlation between people’s psychopathic behavior and their Twitter activity.
The method used by the researchers can identify psychopathic or other negative traits of individuals with a reasonably high degree of accuracy. The duo will present the findings in DEFCON next Sunday.