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Tweets can reveal psychopathic tendencies

First published: August 27, 2012, 4:42 PM IST | Updated: August 27, 2012
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Tweets can reveal psychopathic tendencies
A study found that about 1.4 per cent of users showed psychopathic tendencies.

Washington: You can use Twitter postings to spot whether someone is a psychopath, especially if he frequently uses words such as 'die', 'kill' and 'bury', a new research has claimed.

Researchers from the Florida Atlantic University conducted a study with the London-based Online Privacy Foundation that showed how users' word choices can indicate personality traits, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Somebody who swears too much online or uses words like "die," "kill," or "bury" a lot might have psychopathic tendencies, the research found.

"People are making judgements about others based on social media. Companies even exist that will do this for you if you're hiring," said Chris Sumner, who heads the privacy foundation.

The researchers used an already existing psychological formula to determine how likely someone is to be psychopathic by their writing.

Using a process called data mining, they developed an algorithm that would scan the tweets of nearly 3,000 volunteers.

It found that about 1.4 per cent of users showed psychopathic tendencies, similar to the population as a whole, based on their Tweets and a questionnaire.

The results have limitations, the researchers said. For example, the computer program didn't recognise abbreviated versions of words, which are common on Twitter due to the
140-character limits.

It also can't recognise the difference between someone using a word such as "kill" in an angry way or an off-handed joking way, "such as I could kill him for this".

The findings will be presented at the International Conference of Machine Learning and Applications in December in Boca Raton.

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