[...] People have no rights and he, the psychopath, has no obligations that derive from the "social contract." The psychopath holds himself to be above conventional morality and the law. The psychopath cannot delay gratification. He wants everything and wants it now. His whims, urges, catering to his needs, and the satisfaction of his drives take precedence over the needs, preferences, and emotions of even his nearest and dearest.
Consequently, psychopaths feel no remorse when they hurt or defraud others. They don't possess even the most rudimentary conscience. They rationalize their (often criminal) behavior and intellectualize it. Psychopaths fall prey to their own primitive defense mechanisms (such as narcissism, splitting, and projection). [...] The psychopath projects his own vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and shortcomings unto others and force them to behave the way he expects them to (this defense mechanism is known as "projective identification") [...]
As to the mechanism you mention - I have read about a similar concept in social psychology - that of self-fulfilling prophecy, a process in which we find confirmation and proof for our stereotypes by creating stereotypical behavior in out-group members through our treatment of them. Word, Zanna & Cooper in 1974 conducted a set of experiments that shows such. In the first study, they asked white students to interview job applicants who were either white or black. The students tended to display discomfort when interviewing the blacks; for instance, they sat further away, stammered, and ended the interview earlier. In a second study, the researchers varied the behavior of the student interviewers so that the latter acted towards a job applicant either the way that the interviewers had acted towards whites or the way they had acted towards blacks in the first study. They found that those applicants who had been interviewed in the way that blacks had been interviewed were judged to be more nervous and less effective than the others.
Great post, Violet Bear!
My dear Figaro - I'm sorry but Violet Bear's post can not be that "great," for the fact that it refers to an experimental study of dubious value - I was reading the other day Leon Festinger's experimental study on cognitive dissonance and I could not help but be skeptical of his method and assumptions. Here it is for y'all to draw your own conclusions, in case mines appear not persuasive enough to ya
In Festinger's classic 1959 experiment, students were asked to spend an hour on boring and tedious tasks (e.g., turning pegs a quarter turn over and over again). The tasks were designed to generate a strong, negative attitude. Once the subjects had done this, the experimenters asked some of them to do a simple favor. They were asked to talk to another subject (actually an actor/confederate) trying to persuade them that the tasks were interesting and engaging. Some participants were paid $20 (inflation adjusted to 2010, equating to $150) for this favor, while another group was paid $1 ($7.50 in 2010 dollars) - the control group was not asked to perform the favor at all.
After someone has performed dissonant behavior, they may find external consonant elements. Par exemple, a snake oil salesman may find a justification for promoting falsehoods (let's say, a large personal gain) - but may otherwise need to change his views about the falsehoods themselves.
When asked to rate the boring tasks at the conclusion of the study (not in the presence of the other "subject"), those in the $1 group rated them more positively than those in the $20 and control groups.
This was explained by Festinger as evidence for Cognitive Dissonance. The researchers theorized that people experienced dissonance between the conflicting cognitions, "I told someone that the task was interesting", and "I actually found it boring." When paid only $1, students were forced to internalize the attitude they were induced to express, because they had no other justification. Those in the $20 condition, however, had an obvious external justification for their behavior, experienced less dissonance, thus did not force themselves to internalize.