When we talk about people with a high degree of psychopathy, we often think of people with a tendency to commit crimes and destroy everything they touch. However, traits related to a preference for manipulating others may have been an advantage from an evolutionary standpoint.
In fact, recent research has revealed that, in some settings, psychopathy is somewhat reproductive positive. After all, what serves to perpetuate genes does not necessarily mean that society is improving.
Psychopathy as an advantage
Psychopaths are often thought of as people with mental health problems, people in whom there is something “not working well”. However, as a model of behavior, whether something works or not depends on its compatibility with the context and, while we can decide whether or not something is appropriate based on its morality, there is another possible test: does it help survive and reproduce?
Psychopathy can be expressed through unwanted actions, such as lying, emotional manipulation, or even abuse, but the hard truth is that, in theory, that shouldn’t mean you are going to live less. to expect it from someone with a serious illness or, as is commonly understood, a personality disorder.
More chances to have offspring?
If psychopathy is an evolutionary adaptive trait, it means that the variants of the genes that cause it to appear (the alleles of psychopathy) receive favorable treatment by natural selection, at least in some settings.
For this survey, a sample of 181 Serbian detainees was enumerated, and they underwent psychological tests to measure psychopathic traits (Among the prison population, these characteristics tend to be more present than in the rest of humanity).
The results showed a curious trend: inmates with higher psychopathy scores were more likely to have more sons or daughters. Specifically, the psychological characteristics that seemed to benefit the most when it came to passing on genes were the tendency to manipulate and inflate self-image, while callousness and coldness were only found in males. who had lived in difficult circumstances and with a lot of competition.
Why can this be beneficial?
This result does not indicate that being a psychopath is a good thing or that it helps to find a partner and have more children, not more. From an evolutionary point of view, the value of a personal characteristic always depends on where you live and the type of relationships that exist with other people.
Just as in a place with little food, strong and big animals do not survive, in some places psychopaths will have a harder time adjusting. The question is to know if, in practice, the most frequent is that the contexts which give a privileged treatment to the psychopathy are more or less frequent.
It should be noted that in today’s contexts most people in Western countries live in places where pacts of cooperation and non-aggression prevail.
Thus, there is reason to believe that in general terms, people with elevated psychopathy would not have to have more easily the spread of their genes (and, in particular, those related to the propensity to develop these patterns of behaviour).
Create more collaborative societies
This study serves to draw attention to an important fact: what seems morally undesirable to us should not be “punished“By nature.
If we do not create societies in which cooperation or good behavior is rewarded, manipulation, deception and individualism can be one more option for living, something as valid as altruism. That’s why we need to do our part to make the collaboration worthwhile.
There is no automatic mechanism that leads to punishing bad behavior, but there are ways to create contexts in which we all care about each other. If human beings are renowned for altering the environment according to their needs, it should also be famous for changing the context in which they live to alter the very society in which they live.