November 16, 2010

Psychopathy Could Be Maintained By Natural Selection

The Economist, The Economist


Economist

WHAT makes people psychopaths is not an idle question. Prisons are packed with them. So, according to some, are boardrooms. The combination of a propensity for impulsive risk-taking with a lack of guilt and shame (the two main characteristics of psychopathy) may lead, according to circumstances, to a criminal career or a business one. That has provoked a debate about whether the phenomenon is an aberration, or whether natural selection favours it, at least when it is rare in a population. The boardroom, after all, is a desirable place to be—and before the invention of prisons, even crime might often have paid.

To shed some light on this question Elsa Ermer and Kent Kiehl of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, decided to probe psychopaths’ moral...

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TAGGED: Natural Selection, Psychology, Human Evolution, Psychopathy

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