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If You Refuse to Practice Social Distancing, You Might Be a Psychopath

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As if it wasn't obvious enough already, there is now some evidence that an unwillingness to comply with social distance guidelines might be linked to having psychopathic traits. Mic reports that Pavel S. Blagov, the study's author and an associate professor and director of the Personality Laboratory at Whitman College, surveyed more than 500 people across the country in March, toward the beginning of the pandemic.

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Researchers asked participants to "self-report" about their compliance with social distancing and other public health guidelines after their personality traits were assessed. And low and behold, "The study suggests that people with low levels of social conscientiousness were more likely to reject social distancing recommendations."

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Of course, as psychotherapist Aimee Daramus clarifies, psychopathy isn't an actual medical term. Psychopathy, Mic reports, "exists on a spectrum associated with certain personality traits such as meanness, antisociality, and impulsivity. People have varying amounts of these traits, many in healthy amounts. 

When a person displays an extraordinary amount of psychopathic or sociopathic behavior, psychologists use the term "antisocial personality disorder" to describe them. This is very rare, but there are a fair number of people who display some of the traits, and psychologists agree that people with antisocial traits could be more dangerous during a crisis like that pandemic.

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It's not that they would necessarily intentionally hurt people, but they might not be as afraid of the pandemic or as considerate of other people around them. The study said, "An implication of this research is that there may be a minority of people with particular personality styles — on the narcissism and psychopathy spectrum — that have a disproportionate impact on the pandemic by failing to protect themselves and others."

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And what's worse is that some of these people are well aware that they may be spreading the virus, but they just don't care. Obviously, we can't blame the entire pandemic on people who won't stay socially distant, and we cannot — I repeat, cannot — blame socially irresponsible behavior on mental illness. Plenty of mentally ill people are perfectly responsible in social situations. 

Not to mention, there are a ton of factors at play when it comes to responsibility for spreading the virus. For example, government leaders dragging their feet to shut down and then opening up too soon are to blame for a lot when it comes to the spread of the virus.

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This study doesn't mean that the virus is only spread by people with psychopathic personality traits, either. This thing is highly contagious and fast-spreading. 

The lesson here is obviously to wear a mask and practice social distancing, whether you believe you really need to or not. This is about basic empathy for others. 

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Wearing a mask isn't about protecting yourself. It's about protecting others by providing a barrier between your droplets and them. If you are not wearing a mask when in public, you are basically saying, "I don't care about the health of anyone around me."

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COVID-19 has not gone away. Despite the fact that restaurants and bars and other public places are opening up with specific guidelines, nothing about the spread of the virus has changed. In fact, many states that have begun to open up are experiencing huge spikes in cases

If you care about other people, if you want to see us work through COVID-19 without letting thousands more die, put on a mask, stay at least six feet apart, and for the most part, stay home.

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