Psychopaths Are Good for Society Because ‘They Would Throw One Person Under a Bus to Save Five’

Participants had to decide whether to sacrifice a person by performing a harmful action against them, in order to save a larger group of people. In one moral quandary they were asked to push a victim off a footbridge into the path of an oncoming train to stop it hitting several workmen further down the track. In another scenario, they had to decide whether to stab to death an injured soldier to avoid him being tortured by enemy troops and giving away secrets which could jeopardize the platoon. Participants were invited to give their response by squeezing on a robotic handle which measured the strength of their action. A weaker squeeze suggested they would not carry out the morally dubious action. The research showed that people with strong psychopathic traits were more likely to generate harmful actions with greater physical power, meaning there is was a greater chance they would go through with it.

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