Hancock, J.T., Woodworth, M.T, Morrow, R., McGillivray, H., & Boochever, R. (2012). Assessing credibility through text: A preliminary analysis for identifying psychopathy. Forty-Fifth Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS45).


This paper reports on two studies that used computerized textual analysis to examine the discourse characteristics of positive and negative event stories told by psychopaths. In the first study, display linguistic characteristics consistent with narcissistic personality disorder and to display a greater degree of psychological distancing than nonpsychopathic offenders. Their language use supported these predictions, with psychopaths producing pronoun patterns consistent with narcissism and verb tense patterns consistent psychological distancing. In a follow up preliminary study, we examined whether these results could be extended to the general population and the use of the Self-Report Psychopathy (III) scale. The preliminary results are limited but encouraging. Overall the results suggest that a psychopath’s narcissistic personality and psychological distancing can be detected in language production.