WHEN DO WE IDENTIFY WITH THE BAD GUY?

It is human nature to want to see ourselves as the heroes of our own story. So, in ways large and small, we work hard to maintain a positive self-image. Indeed, research has shown that one way we do this is by actively avoiding comparisons with people who are similar to us but who also possess negative characteristics.  Yet, new research from the Kellogg School of Management suggests one context in which we are surprisingly willing to explore our darker selves: the world of fictional villains. The researchers suggest that, within the safe confines of fantasy, we’re able to explore our dark side without fear of negative consequences. Villains provide an interesting window into learning about parts of the self that we don’t normally explore.  Humans are surprisingly willing to explore the darker selves in the world of fictional villains. Why do we feel drawn to our dark doppelgangers? One reason is that similarity is inherently attractive; it creates a common base for understanding and learning. The other factor is that villains provide an interesting window into learning about parts of the self that we don’t normally explore. A lot of people who are actually good human beings who would never want to be bad in the real world, may see fantasy as a means to entertain it.  Read More >>

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