Psychopathy is a real mental health condition that often goes undetected in people, which means you could be living next to, or with, a psychopath and not even know it. So how do you tell a psychopath from your average Joe? Well, according to a new study, it may help to see what they studied in college; psychopaths are more likely to be into business courses. 

The study, published online in Personality and Individual Differences, found that individuals with the Dark Triad traits (narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) are more likely to have studied business and economics. These results show that your personality, particularly having a “dark” personality, may influence your educational choices.

Read: Dark Triad Personality Traits Associated With Speed Dating Success

The findings are based on answers from over 400 Danish students who took a personality test while also providing information about their academic choices. According to The Indy 100, the study was specifically done before the students started their studies, so that any personality differences could not be attributed to the course’s socialization effect, but rather give true insight into the tie between course selection and personality.

In other words, they wanted to see which personalities were originally drawn to these subjects, not what effects the subjects had on an individual's personality. On the other hand, students who studied psychology scored relatively lower on the dark personality scale.

A Dark Triad personality includes psychopathy, a spectrum disorder that describes having a lack of empathy, along with a grandiose sense of self-worth paired with a power-hungry drive, Psychology Today reported. While it may seem like a less-than desirable personality, it may benefit some people. For example, one study found that those with the Dark Triad personality were more successful in speed dating settings. Results of a study based on 90 participants found that those with Dark Triad personalities were more likely to leave an impression on their date in a short period of time. According to the study authors, this may be because individuals with dark triad personalities have different motivations and drives when it comes to their mating techniques. 

“Dark triad traits are linked to the pursuit of short-term mating strategies, but they may have differential effects on actual mating success in naturalistic scenarios,” Emanuel Jauk, corresponding author of the study, told PsyPost.

In addition, some perfectionism traits are also closely tied to individuals with Dark Triad personalities. According to one study from the University of Kent, “other-oriented” perfectionists, or those who want others to meet impossibly high standards and become critical when others fail to meet their expectations, also tend to have other Dark Triad personalities such as narcissism and antisocial behaviors.

Source: Vedel A, Thomsen DK. The Dark Triad across academic majors. Personality and Individual Differences . 2017

See Also:

Perfectionism Linked To Dark Triad Traits; Some Perfectionists Are Antisocial And Machiavellian

Dark Triad Personalities Aren't As Good At Manipulation From Behind A Computer Screen