Six Traits with which to Spot a Psychopath

One of the traits with which to spot a psychopath is they usually act and seek their own benefit. They have no concern for anyone at any time.
Six Traits with which to Spot a Psychopath
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 17 May, 2024

Today’s article is about the traits with which to spot a psychopath. You’ve probably heard it in the news more than once, how a totally normal person committed a crime that no one would have ever thought them capable of. “It was a psychopath,” some would add, and they might be right.

Psychopaths aren’t that different from “normal” people. In fact, they’re the type of person that most would describe as pleasant, charismatic, and even a good person. This is what they seem like, at least.

This is because all this kindness could suddenly disappear. Mainly because a psychopath’s emotions aren’t normal. Thus, they fake them in order to manipulate others.

A psychopath will manipulate others in order to get what they want. They may use others. This is why it’s important to learn how to spot them.

Some possible traits with which to spot a psychopath

1. They’re pathological liars

Everyone lies. But when a psychopath lies, they don’t tell little white lies or even justifiable ones. A psychopath tells one lie after another.

A psychopath constantly lies in order to manipulate and use the people around them. Sometimes, they also lie with the end goal of causing harm.

While psychopaths have goals like everyone else, they don’t go about trying to achieve them in a “good way.”

2. You can spot a psychopath because they’re irresponsible

Can you imagine what it would be like not to have any emotional ties to anyone or anything? Psychopaths don’t feel obligated to make good on their promises at work or home, so they never end up doing anything they say they’re going to.

Normally, a psychopath constantly changes jobs or moves to new places for this reason. They never feel attached to a place, not even a house.

This also applies to people as they suddenly end friendships all the time, harming and abandoning those that once trusted them.

3. They lure you in with their fake charm

This is definitely one of the traits that will help you spot a psychopath. Psychopaths put on their best face in front of other people, hiding their true intentions. In reality, they trust no one but themselves.

But, on the other hand, they give off the appearance of someone you can trust and tell all your secrets to.

What you don’t realize is that this openness is like falling straight into the mouth of the beast. The more you trust in them, the more vulnerable you are. Their false charm lures you in.

4. You can spot a psychopath by looking into their troubled past

Right now, the psychopath might seem perfectly normal. However, if you look into their past, you might find a truly revealing history.

Even if they were involved in minor altercations, the fact that they were often involved in them can tell us a lot.

This is because, although it may not appear so, they don’t accept society’s rules and often have no respect for human rights.

5. They manipulate and depend on others

A manipulative person controlling puppets.

Psychopaths manipulate others to meet their own needs. However, they know that not all people can be manipulated, so they often surround themselves with weaker people.

To a psychopath, a person isn’t a human being, but an object for them to use to get what they want.

Most importantly, a psychopath will always try to live off of others. They believe others only exist to serve them, that they’re the ones who must work and struggle to get by.

6. They lack empathy

According to Walter Glannon, a researcher, psychopaths have a very limited capacity for moral reasoning due to their lack of empathy, remorse, and sensitivity to fear-inducing stimuli.

They may seem like they understand because that’s part of the false charisma they use to earn your trust. But, in reality, they have no idea how you feel.

This gives them an advantage over you. They never feel shame, guilt, or any emotion that would prevent normal people from doing what they do. Also, psychopaths seldom feel bad for others: they only think of themselves.

It’s important to remember that there aren’t many psychopaths in the general population, so very rarely do we end up in their sights.

However, it’s not a good day when you have to deal with one of them. This is why it’s so important to be able to recognize the signs. Have you ever met someone with these traits?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Edens, J. F., Marcus, D. K., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Poythress Jr, N. G. (2006). Psychopathic, not psychopath: Taxometric evidence for the dimensional structure of psychopathy. Journal of abnormal psychology, 115(1), 131.
  • Endres, J. (2004). The language of the psychopath: characteristics of prisoners’ performance in a sentence completion test. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 14(3), 214-226.
  • Glannon, W. (2008). Moral responsibility and the psychopath. Neuroethics, 1(3), 158.
  • Rauthmann, J. F., & Kolar, G. P. (2013). Positioning the Dark Triad in the interpersonal circumplex: The friendly-dominant narcissist, hostile-submissive Machiavellian, and hostile-dominant psychopath?. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(5), 622-627.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.