I wrote about research suggesting that the sociopath's corpus callosum is longer and thinner than the average person's brain, resulting in a faster rate of transfer of information between the two hemispheres of their brain. Rather than cite this as a possible advantage of the sociopath brain, researchers conjectured that this might explain why sociopaths have "less remorse, fewer emotions and less social connectedness." What? Maybe it's just my lack of understanding, but that conclusion doesn't seem to follow at all from the fact that sociopaths have a more efficient corpus callosum.
Sometimes the problem with the research or logic is the complete circularity of the research -- i.e. the tautology of the assertion people who manifest antisocial traits tend to behave antisocially. For instance, a new study found out that people who self-report that "what matters for me is the bottom line,"will behave more ruthlessly and selfishly in prisoner's dilemma style games:
The study involved normal undergraduate students around age 19. The students were divided into small groups and told to converse on a topic of their choice for 10 minutes. Then, they were separated and given a questionnaire to measure their psychopathic tendencies. The questionnaire asked them to rate their agreement with statements, such as"what matters for me is the bottom line," or "I am often angry in social situations." There are two kinds of psychopathy, but this study was looking at the classic "conniving and cold" psychopaths.
Next, the researchers had the students play a "prisoner's dilemma" game, in which each person was given a sum of money that they could keep for themselves or transfer to a partner, for whom it would be doubled. For example, both people would start with $3; they could either keep $3 or give $6 to their partner. If the game has several iterations, it is in both people's best interest to cooperate and give the money away, because both will receive $6 instead of $3. But if it's just a one-shot game, it's in a person's best interest to keep the $3 for himself or herself, as there can be no consequence of not cooperating. (This experiment involved a one-shot game, though participants weren't told that fact.)
The students who scored higher on the questionnaire (meaning they were more psychopathic) were more likely to betray their partner and keep the money for themselves if that partner interrupted them more frequently (a sign of disrespect). The more psychopathic students were also more likely to betray a partner with whom they appeared to have less in common, and were therefore less likely to see again. In other words, those with more psychopathic tendencies only cooperated if there was something in it for them.
"Traits such as deceitfulness and conceitedness — as opposed to honesty and humility — involve a willingness to take advantage of others when the opportunity arises."