Read the Beforeitsnews.com story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Alton Parrish (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:
Total:

From Voldemort to Vader, Science Says We Prefer Fictional Villains Who Remind Us of Ourselves

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.


As people binge watch TV shows and movies during this period of physical distancing, they may find themselves eerily drawn to fictional villains, from Voldemort and Vader to Maleficent and Moriarty. Rather than being seduced by the so-called dark side, the allure of evil characters has a reassuringly scientific explanation.

According to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, people may find fictional villains surprisingly likeable when they share similarities with the viewer or reader.

This attraction to potentially darker versions of ourselves in stories occurs even though we would be repulsed by real-world individuals who have similarly immoral or unstable behaviors. One reason for this shift, the research indicates, is that fiction acts like a cognitive safety net, allowing us to identify with villainous characters without tainting our self-image.

Publicity photo of some of the villains from Batman. From left: The Penguin Burgess Meredith, The Riddler Frank Gorshin, and The Joker Cesar Romero
Credit: Greenway Productions / Wikimedia Commons

“Our research suggests that stories and fictional worlds can offer a ‘safe haven’ for comparison to a villainous character that reminds us of ourselves,” says Rebecca Krause, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University and lead author on the paper. “When people feel protected by the veil of fiction, they may show greater interest in learning about dark and sinister characters who resemble them.”

Academics have long suggested people recoil from others who are in many ways similar to themselves yet possess negative features such as obnoxiousness, instability, and treachery. Antisocial features in someone with otherwise similar qualities, the thinking goes, may be a threat to a person’s image of themselves.

“People want to see themselves in a positive light,” notes Krause. “Finding similarities between oneself and a bad person can be uncomfortable.” In contrast, Krause and her coauthor and advisor Derek Rucker find that putting the bad person in a fictional context can remove that discomfort and even reverse this preference. In essence, this separation from reality attenuates undesirable and uncomfortable feelings.

“When you are no longer uncomfortable with the comparison, there seems to be something alluring and enticing about having similarities with a villain,” explains Rucker.

“For example, people who see themselves as tricky and chaotic may feel especially drawn to the character of The Joker in the Batman movies, while a person who shares Lord Voldemort’s intellect and ambition may feel more drawn to that character in the Harry Potter series,” said Krause.

To test this idea, the researchers analyzed data from the website CharacTour, an online, character-focused entertainment platform that had approximately 232,500 registered users at the time of analysis. One of the site’s features allows users to take a personality quiz and see their similarity to different characters who had been coded as either villainous or not. Villains included characters such as Maleficent, The Joker, and Darth Vader. Nonvillains included Sherlock Holmes, Joey Tribbiani, and Yoda.

The anonymous data from these quizzes allowed the researchers to test whether people were attracted toward or repulsed by similar villains, using nonvillains as a baseline. Not surprisingly, people were drawn to nonvillains as their similarity increased. However, the results further suggested that users were most drawn to villains who share similarities with them.

The researchers believe that similarities to story villains do not threaten the self in the way real-life villains would.

“Given the common finding that people are uncomfortable with and tend to avoid people who are similar to them and bad in some way, the fact that people actually prefer similar villains over dissimilar villains was surprising to us,” notes Rucker. “Honestly, going into the research, we both were aware of the possibility that we might find the opposite.”

The current data do not identify which behaviors or characteristics the participants found attractive. Further research is needed to explore the psychological pull of villains and whether people are drawn toward similar villains in fiction because people look for chances to explore their own personal dark side.

“Perhaps fiction provides a way to engage with the dark aspects of your personality without making you question whether you are a good person in general,” concludes Krause.

Contacts and sources:
Association for Psychological Science

Publication: Krause, R.J., Rucker D.D., (2020) Can bad be good? The attraction of a darker self. Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0956797620909742



Source: http://www.ineffableisland.com/2020/04/from-voldemort-to-vader-science-says-we.html
Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!


Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at https://mitocopper.com

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at https://www.herbanomic.com


Get our Free Ebook, "Suppressed Health Secrets"  with  Natural Cures THEY don't want you to know!

Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Organic Hemp Extract (CBD) - Full Spectrum high CBD (3300mg) hemp extract eases stiff joints, relieves stress and more!
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

Immusist Beverage Concentrate - Proprietary blend, formulated to reduce inflammation while hydrating and oxygenating the cells.

Report abuse
Loading...
    Loading...

    Comments

    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    MOST RECENT
    Load more ...

    SignUp

    Login

    Newsletter

    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.