JH: Well, first of all, there's this really weird halo effect that we talk about all the time in social psychology where this happens, especially for heterosexual males. If they are good-looking, then we associate all kinds of positive qualities with them. Like, "Oh, they must also be smart and competent and nice," and you know, the list goes on. Interestingly, the fact is it's not really that way for heterosexual, cisgender females. The research that is done has shown that if a female is attractive, people sometimes actually attribute a mixed bag of qualities to them like, "Oh, she's so pretty, she must not be so smart, she must not have a good job." So, that says something about our cultural expectations of men and women who are attractive.
But I think above and beyond that, to answer some of your other questions and the layers that are inherent in the question, is that there are so many people who are attracted to these real-life criminals like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson. There are so many of them we can just keep listing them. And it's interesting because sometimes these murderers actually murder their loved ones, their fiancés, their wives, and people are still like, "Hey, let me be your next victim." Basically, they're writing into prison and saying, "I will be your next love interest." And I think the reason is we have in some ways glorified criminals, because there's so much coverage in the media. Sometimes the trials are really public. It's like this big event. Everybody's looking into the courtroom. And so they seem like celebrities in their own right, kind of like a celebrity from a reality TV show.
And then I think people look for these tiny little redeeming qualities, like "Oh, maybe this means that the person can change and I can be the one to change them. Well, if I can be the one to change and then there must be something special about me. Plus, I feel good about myself because I'm doing something good for humanity and for him and for society." So I think that there's that element of it.
Now, as a psychologist, I do believe that a number of people who grow up and have these antisocial personality traits can change, but they have to really recognize it in themselves and really have to want it. They have to have that motivation. And unfortunately, there's a small population of people who I believe probably couldn't be changed and we just need to protect society from them. You know, we do need to keep eyes on them if they ever get released, they have to be on such tight probation that they can't be allowed to be let loose and do more havoc. And I think that that's a tough thing to admit in some ways as human beings like, "Oh man, we really think someone might be not redeemable?" and I do think a small proportion of people with antisocial personality traits might not be able to be actually treated.