The Specific Type Of Woman That Psychopathic Men Target — And Why

Photo: Juan Moyano | Canva
mentally unwell male

Women who are emotionally available and more empathetic may possess the ideal qualities that men seek in a relationship. They also happen to be targets that psychopathic men tend to favor.

A 2021 research study shows that individuals whose traits are psychopathic tend to be more trustworthy when it comes to convincing others and gaining their trust. 

The study, “Successful and selective exploitation in psychopathy: Convincing others and gaining trust," was authored by Kristopher J. Brazil, Chantelle J. Dias, and Adelle E. Forth. It was published in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences.”

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It consisted of 46 male college students who completed a deceptive emotion story task, in which they sat down in front of a camera and had to tell a story about a time they felt remorse for something they did when they actually didn’t. They were told to be as convincing as possible and that the best-rated stories with the best ratings would receive a prize.

After they completed a Self-Report Psychopathy scale, the researchers recruited 1,060 university students to react to the videos of male college students.

They had to rate their genuineness and trustworthiness. To remove any influence or bias, the researchers told the university students that they were participating in a study about how trust is influenced via emotional stories.

Brazil, a Ph.D. candidate at Brock University, said that the men who displayed characteristics of a psychopathic personality have been described as showing very contradictory qualities.

“On the one hand, they are usually described as having a personality pathology — and rightfully so, since they routinely perpetuate self- and other-damaging behaviors,” Brail said. “Words like ‘maladaptive,’ ‘disordered,’ and ‘dysfunctional’ are often used to describe those with psychopathic traits, implying that there is something wrong with them.

“On the other hand, they have also been described as engaging in excessive and even sophisticated acts of deception that suggest they may surely know how to exploit others for their own gain,” the researcher said. “The focus on ‘disorder’ then could occlude possible interpersonal — albeit selfish — benefits that might come from having a psychopathic personality.”

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What were the findings and what did the evidence say?

After the study, it was found that those who possess psychopathic traits tended to be more trustworthy and gained trust more easily than others. 

“Those who had more overall psychopathic traits were more likely to be seen as trustworthy following a deceptive story and to have their deception believed by others,” Brazil said.

There was evidence that the personality traits of the 1,060 university students were themselves associated with their likelihood of feeling trust toward the 46 male college students who recorded the videos.

Brazil and the other authors examined the deceptive ability of psychopathy to gain the trust of others. It was found that women high in emotionality were more likely to favor psychopathic men. Of course, the study was done with college and university students but the numbers speak for themselves.

The evidence also shows that psychopathy may have exploitative abilities and may not be a disorder. It is not, however, associated with a disordered view known as fluctuating asymmetry.

“[Y]oung men who have more traits in line with a psychopathic personality did not show a higher likelihood of displaying biological markers of disorder,” Brazil said. “In fact, psychopathic traits were uncorrelated with our measure of disorder.”

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What does this say about women psychopathic men target and how they're manipulated and tricked?

The study has the caveat that it was only done with a limited population of college students, but it is important to note that the responsibility for women overall is not to be ever-vigilant and avoid being tricked. It's never the fault of a woman who's deceived by a psychopath. 

According to the study, interactions between the rater's sex and personality predicted preferential ratings for high psychopathy men. Men who happen to be high in psychopathy often specifically target women who are more emotionally available as targets. 

Women are in an unfortunate situation where they want to be emotionally available in order to have a healthy partnership, but they run the risk of becoming manipulated by psychopathic men who target them for that same reason. A woman who express their feelings well and deal with their emotional well-being in healthy ways are probably less concerned with running into an unsuccessful dating situation because of their capability for self-awareness.

Because psychopathic men can fake emotions and tune in to their victims so well, however, even women with enhanced awareness and empathic traits should be careful while choosing a potential suitor. 

The study is being used to determine better ways to approach and effectively deal with psychopathic behavior. The data collected will help researchers learn more about the traits and motives of psychopaths, and could possibly lead to guidance for how women can better protect themselves

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Tomás Diniz Santos is a freelance writer, photographer, and photo editor. His work has been published by The Washington Post, Associated Press, USA Today, Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, and more.