Posted by & filed under Aggression, Child Development, Neuroscience, Personality, Social Influence, Social Psychology, Social Psychology.

Description: I have posted about the Dark Triad (Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy) before which suggests how some poor or bad behavior in others might be accounted for, but what about large-scale evil? An ongoing question has been to wonder what array of circumstances, conditions, and characteristics come together to produce truly evil people such a Hitler. If you have wondered about such things then have a read through the article linked below which discusses a recently released book that looks closely at what the available and recent research in Neuroscience, Psychology and other disciplines suggest as possible contributors to the production of evil or evil acting people.

Source: The Science of Evil, Katherine Ramsland, Shadow Boxing, Psychology Today.

Date: March 10, 2019


Article Link:

The main message from the book reviewed in the article linked above seems to be that evil or rather people who act in evil ways, are born AND made, shaped by the contexts in which they grow and develop and in the social and historical contexts in which they find themselves. Social situations CAN be very powerful but then so can the drive within some people to take advantage of the situations they find and those which they nudge or outright create.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might we define “evil” using Psychological theories and research?
  2. Does it make sense to say that some individuals are evil?
  3. Was there anything in the article that surprised you or drew you to reconsider something you used to simply hold to be true?

References (Read Further):

Shaw, J. (2019). Evil: The science behind humanity’s dark side. New York, NY: Abrams Press.

Zimbardo, P. G. (2011). Lucifer effect. The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology.

Waller, J. E. (2007). Becoming evil: How ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing. Oxford University Press.

Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. M. (2002). The dark triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of research in personality, 36(6), 556-563.