How to Tell If Someone Is a Sociopath

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A sociopath is characterized by the deficit of social emotions such as love, guilt, shame or remorse. According to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, the sociopath lacks “a sense of moral responsibility and social conscience.” Sociopaths often scheme to manipulate others without regard to consequences of inflicting harm. It is the cold-hearted way the sociopath reacts to his victims that illustrates his lack of moral compass and detachment from other human beings.

Sociopaths are always looking out for themselves.
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Step 1

Observe the person in his day-to-day life to assess her interactions with others. Sociopaths may be charming, but their actions are calculated to manipulate others. Common behaviors include scams, fraud and deception and may include feigned emotions to appeal to the victim’s emotions. (Reference 1)

Man in court
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Step 2

Watch for indications that the individual pursues anything they want at the expense of others. According to Austin Peay State University, the sociopath’s life revolves around meeting his own needs without regards to others. (Reference 2)

Bully
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Step 3

Verify stories and information provided by the suspected sociopath. Sociopaths typically concoct elaborate backgrounds, inflate their worth and experience and simply lie to convince others to give them what they want.

Liar
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Step 4

Look for lack of expression of guilt or remorse for wrongful actions towards others. Lack of emotion and failure to express remorse typically signals sociopathic tendencies. Sociopaths convicted of violent crimes typically remain expressionless and exhibit a cold exterior.

Teenage boy with knife
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Step 5

Assess whether the individual has the mental capability to understand their actions. Sociopaths typically understand their actions and know they are wrong or socially unacceptable but simply don’t care. Mentally challenged individuals may lack the cognitive abilities to understand their own actions.

Abusive man
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Step 6

Arrange for psychological testing to determine the stability of the individual. Children may exhibit sociopathic traits in the early teens. Lying, stealing and violating laws may signal the onset of sociopathic personalities. Psychological testing rules out other psychological issues that may present with similar traits.

Psychiatrist
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