Having a close relationship with someone with dark tetrad personality traits – narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism – is tough to say the least.
As well as being selfish, they appear to be devoid of empathy for anyone around them, including their closest family members.
Psychopaths in particular exhibit a complete disregard for others. At the same time they can be very charming, easily working their way up to positions of power through their callous nature and skills in manipulating people around them.
This has been something of a paradox for psychologists – why would people who seemingly have no interest in anyone else's feelings have the ability to be so in tune with the intentions and thoughts of others?
Researchers at Yale University may have come up with an answer in a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Psychopaths have typically been thought of as lacking in social awareness, but the results of the new study suggest they may simply not automatically empathise with those around them.