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The Language of Psychopaths: New Findings and Implications for Law Enforcement


For psychopaths, not only a lack of affect but also inappropriate emotion may reveal the extent of their callousness. Recent research suggested that much can be learned about these individuals by close examination of their language. Their highly persuasive nonverbal behavior often distracts the listener from identifying their psychopathic nature.1 For example, on a publically available police interview with murderer and rapist Paul Bernardo, his powerful use of communication via his hand gesturing is easily observable and often distracts from his spoken lies.2 The authors offer their insights into the unique considerations pertaining to psychopaths’ communication.

M. Woodworth
J.T. Hancock
S. Porter
R. Hare
M. Logan
M.E. O’Toole
S. Smith
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, July 2012 Issue
Publication Date
July 1, 2012