TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - If you ever wondered what makes a murderer, a University of South Florida psychological criminology professor is working to answer that question.
Bryanna Fox just published a new study that looks at how certain behavioral traits are more common among people who kill, looking to help answer the debate whether you can predict if someone is going to kill.
“We have it in our pop culture and lore that psychopaths are far more likely to commit homicides; however, this hasn't been tested on any big scale level,” said Fox, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Courtesy Professor in the Department of Mental Health, Law, and Policy at USF.
Fox published a first of its kind project with a professor from Iowa State University, finding a correlation between psychopaths and homicides using dozens of studies from around the world.
“So, if it was a one-off homicide, their level of psychopathy was actually lower compared to someone who committed a serial homicide, like a serial killer,” said Fox, who is a former FBI special agent and earned her Ph.D. in psychological criminology in England.
It takes certain behavior traits to kill one person, let alone more. FOX 13’s Briona Arradondo asked her about the recent Tarpon Springs killings with three people murdered and two dogs dead.
“I would just say that based off of our research, people that kill multiple victims are more likely to be psychopaths almost than any other type,” Fox said.
She said police can use her work to do some level of profiling, even while looking into crimes like burglary and robbery.
“So when officers are doing the interview of somebody, and they are starting to get the feeling that this person is not taking the responsibility, very cunning, manipulative, pathologically lying, there's starting to be a high probability of psychopathic traits. All I would say is that's the kind of person you want to keep an eye on,” said Fox.
But who someone may think is a psychopath Fox found isn’t always the extreme that may come to mind because they are charming, narcissistic and lack empathy through their actions not words.
“They appear normal. They blend into society. These are not the criminals that you would think you'd identify from a mile away,” said Fox.
And those behavior traits are more common in the U.S. than you may know.
“The prevalence of psychopathy is about 1 percent, which is one in 100,” said Fox. “So, I start the semester every year saying, ‘Look around you. One of you statistically is a psychopath, right?’ But they never will think of it like that.”
The study was just published in the Aggression and Violent Behavior journal, and you can read more on the findings here.