Are you a psychopath? Take the test.

“Psychologist Kevin Dutton presents the classic psychological test known as “the trolley problem” with a variation. Take the test and measure your response on the psychopathic spectrum.” (Bigthink, YouTube)

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4 thoughts on “Are you a psychopath? Take the test.

  1. I wonder what he means by psychopath. Is it a person without empathy/emotions who is amoral and anti-social? If so, then perhaps a psychopath wouldn’t care that by not pushing the fat man off the bridge more people would die. I accept that the idea that psychopaths have no ‘hot’ emotions (or however he put it), but what (I think) I have trouble with is that psychopaths care about what the ‘more moral’ action is. They aren’t more moral (because by definition they are amoral), they just lack hot emotions.

    • Hi Taryn,

      Thanks for commenting! I had to watch the video again to check out what he was saying. What I got from it was just that psychopaths lack the ‘hot’ emotions, so unlike everyone else no change would register on an MRI. I suppose the test then is if you noticed a change in your own thinking when presented with the second dilemma. If you did, then chances are you’re probably not a psychopath.
      The dilemmas hinge on having to make a choice, I think. Because given that psychopaths are amoral maybe the more likely action would be for them to walk right past the bridge and not give the situation much thought. The dilemma is a moral one so for a psychopath surely it wouldn’t even register as being a problem. But, if they had to make a choice they’d choose to push the guy over because…

      I’m not going to finish that sentence because I think I see what you’re saying now.

      Maybe it doesn’t even make sense to use examples like this when discussing psychopathy. From my extremely limited understanding, the psychopath can understand problems like this if it will affect them in some way, but otherwise I would have thought they just wouldn’t care. I would have thought it would be equally possible that the psychopath being given this test would answer that (a) they not push the guy over and five people die, (b) they push the guy over saving five lives for one, or (c) they refuse to answer because they can’t see why they would do anything at all. It seems to me that forcing psychopaths to choose between two options in a moral dilemma should result in some choosing to save five lives (just because) and the others choosing to let the five die (just because). In this dilemma there wouldn’t be any reason for a psychopath to choose either way.

      If the dilemma was that a train was going to kill five people or the psychopath could push a guy onto the track and save them (killing the guy), and the guy happened to be the psychopath’s father, then perhaps the psychopath might have a reason not to push the guy over. Not because of some moral duty, but purely because the psychopath’s life would go worse if their father was dead.

      Now that I’ve given more thought to it, it seems as if the psychologist is assuming that since the psychopath wouldn’t have any reasons not to push the guy over that that then gives him a reason to push him over, where actually no reason exists – because that reason would be a moral one.

      -Stacey

      • Agree, there’s no moral dilemma for the psychopath. There could be though, how he could be the best psychopath – i.e. how to increase his amorality. Is it more amoral to push a guy over or let 5 people die? But this is only a hypothetical question – the most amoral person would let 5 people die then push the fat person over.

    • Hi,
      Before reading the other replies I thought I’d respond. I am wondering how situation 1 is experienced by other non-psychopaths. The personal/impersonal distinction may simply be a failure of imagination in case 1. When asked what I would do, my imagination of what would happen to the person/people and my connection to them was quite vivid– I can say that both scenarios provoked the same misgivings in me. Are there some other factors at work here, like what it would be to take a physical action that brings you into a direct contact with another person? Suzanne

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