Can You Tell If A Baby Will Grow Up To Be A Psychopath?

There are many possible signs that can help you spot a psychopath — they may not yawn when others do, they might stay eerily calm in dangerous situations, and for all of their charm and charisma, they tend to have few (if any) close friends.

These subtle clues can help you identify an adult psychopath, but is it possible to tell whether a child is on the road to becoming one later in life? Actually, it might be. A newly devised test purportedly spots signs of antisocial behavior in infants and toddlers.

The “red ball” test

Psychologists at King’s College London used a red ball to track the visual preferences of 213 five-week-old babies, to see if they preferred interacting with an object or a human face. Then, when the babies were two and a half years old, the researchers tested them for callous-unemotional traits, also called CU traits, a range of characteristics and behaviors including limited empathy, difficulty recognizing the emotions of others and a lack of guilt.

The research, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry in July, found that babies who were more interested in the red ball than in a person’s face tended to have higher levels of unemotional traits later in childhood — one possible precursor to adult psychopathy.

As some psychologists have noted, there is a strong correlation between CU traits and severe antisocial behaviors.

“Callous unemotional behaviors in children are known to be associated with an increased emotional burden on families as well as later criminality and antisocial behavior,” Dr. Rachael Bedford, a psychologist at King’s College London and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email.

She added that the researchers don’t yet know how strong the relationship between CU traits and —> Read More