Is your child on the road to becoming a psychopath later in life?
Psychiatrists from King’s College London, the University of Manchester and the University of Liverpool have devised a new test that can give a hint to a baby’s future personality.
The red ball test predicts whether newborn babies will develop callous-unemotional (CU) traits, a possible precursor to adult psychopathy. In the study, the researchers observed the visual preferences of 213 five-week-old babies. The test involved checking whether the babies preferred seeing a human face or a red ball. When the babies reached two and half years old, they were then tested for CU traits which involve behaviors and characteristics such as lack of guilt, limited empathy, and difficulty recognizing the emotion of others.
Their findings revealed that babies who preferred looking at the red ball instead of a human face tended to have higher levels of CU traits later in childhood.
“All infants are drawn to the human face, but some more than others, and it may be that those who are more drawn to objects are less likely to look at their parents’ faces,”study lead author Dr. Rachael Bedford explained.
However, Dr. Bedford emphasized that researchers have not yet established the strength of the relationship between CU traits and adult psychopathy.
The study also showed that sensitive parenting does a huge part in preventing the development of antisocial behaviours among children.
“In the longer term this could help us to understand what parental responses may help to promote healthy social-emotional development in both boys and girls,” Bedford added.
What is a Psychopath?
Psychopathy is personality disorder that is characterised by lasting anti-social behavior, bold behaviour as well as diminished empathy and remorse.
Mental health professionals usually characterize psychopaths as predators who take advantage of others by using their charm, violence, deceit, and other methods to be able to get what they want.