Scientists are trying to discover if we can spot a psychopathic killer using anything he or she has written, from a tweet to a blog post.
The researchers want to take methods used to analyze the language of psychopaths and apply it to the general population using social media, reports CBS News.
Professors Jeff Hancock from Cornell University, and Michael T. Woodworth and Stephen Porter from the University of British Columbia studied hardcore criminals, including "14 psychopathic and 38 non-psychopathic homicide offenders."
According to the study's abstract, psychopaths often use cause-and-effect descriptors like "because" and "since." They tend to focus on material needs like money, food and drinks. There are fewer references to family or religion.
There was a higher frequency of "uh" and "um," which indicates that emotional events are difficult for them to describe. Finally, they tend to talk in the past tense, which indicates psychological detachment from an incident.
Because they take the text and calculate percentage, it makes it possible to use data as little as 140 character tweets.
The study will be published in the Legal and Criminological Psychology journal.