Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Empathy Gap

I'm reading a book by J. D. Trout called The Empathy Gap. The most poignant sentence I've read so far, that captures a lot of how I feel:
It is just too easy to make people look personally responsible for bad outcomes when, in truth, all of their realistic options were bad ones.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to detect that someone is a sociopath

No, I'm not talking about that old, silly psychopath "test" involving the woman at the funeral.

After even a minor mishap, most people seem to apologize or look embarrassed almost immediately, even if it's unnecessary. I'd bet that the presence of this response is good evidence that the person is not a sociopath.

Like pain, embarrassment causes a clear physiological response, and one that should be hard to fake - - at least consistently.

Psychopaths can and often do imitate normal pro-social emotions, but to do so quickly and consistently, even in the most minor circumstances, should be hard. The opposite, to quickly and consistently suppress a response should be easier (and monks seem to be able to do this, at least for negative reactions).

So whenever I see someone blurt out a sheepish "oops!" when opening a door into me at work, I mentally check him or her off the "possible psychopath" list. Everyone else is still on it ;)