Photo by Brian Cummings.

From our early childhood days, we’re taught to love the hero and hate the villain. Through fairy tales and Disney movies, the world is divided into good and evil, and everyone is rooting for the good guy. Or are they? Regular people care about their self-image and tend to see themselves in a positive way. Moreover, they try to avoid any negative associations that would damage their self-image. In this case, the researchers explored whether people favored villains as a safe way to explore darker traits or actions without fear of judgment. For example, Harry Potter quickly denied any similarity in personality traits with Lord Voldemort when Voldemort said that he and Harry were very much alike. In fact, people try to avoid any information that would jeopardize their positive image of themselves. A recent study by psychologists from Northwestern University has explored this phenomenon and sought to explain why people are often attracted to malevolent, immoral, and insidious villains. The researchers argue that the “sympathy for the devil” in a fictional setting is perhaps a safe way for people to relate to darker aspects of their personality without threatening the fragile sense of self. But not all of us operate under that rule. Some of us, and let’s face the music here – the more interesting ones don’t shy away from the truth. We are who we are, warts and all. There’s nothing wrong with being the villain. Villains get shit done.  I don’t know about you but I’m tired of the shiny, golden, all-around good guy or girl hero trope. It’s so excruciatingly boring. Society rejected them, people hated them, but despite all this, they were still able to impose their will on the world. They are intelligent. They understand the systems they are navigating to attain their aims, and they understand the people who they’re manipulating to do their bidding. The good guys of the world are so much less interesting than masterminds who are calculating every step of the way. Villains of the world are what keeps our world spinning – CEOs, inventors, innovators, artists, creators – they’re all villains according to the golden heroes that fall in line because they dare to dream big, accomplish bigger, change the world in one way or another. The good rarely make history.

Story by Laurie Silvey.