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Psychology: Children always see the good in the bad

Psychology: Children always see the good in the bad

Ruthless, sneaky, vindictive: When you think of Ursula the Sea Witch from the Disney classic “Arielle,” something not-so-flattering comes to mind. In the film, the octopus fights very bitterly against her brother, the King of the Sea Triton, and challenges him for control of the ocean.

But is Ursula’s sense of revenge really based on a character so evil? Or maybe she has a good core who gets angry over insults?

It is best to ask this question to a young target audience. Because: Children seem to find it easier to recognize potential good things in bad situations than adults do. This is suggested by a new study conducted by the University of Michigan, published in the journal in mid-April knowledge has been posted.

Social in antisocial

The team, led by psychologist Valerie A. Omscheid, wanted to gain a better understanding of how children interpret antisocial actions committed by bad guys. To find out, 434 children between the ages of 4 and 12 and 277 adults were examined.

On the one hand, it was found that children judge the actions and feelings of villains mostly negatively. In extreme forms of malignancy, the well-documented tendency towards positivity (in English “positive bias”) is broken. Younger children in particular show a positive tendency when assessing personality traits. This means that they selectively absorb or process information to form an optimistic image of themselves and others.

Both children and adults have consistently rated the true self of villains more negatively than heroes. BUT: Adults rated villains more negatively.

On the other hand, it examined what the ideas of children and adults are regarding the moral character and true self of heroes and villains. So, how does the character feel deep down, whether the character’s actions reflect their true self, and whether that can change over time.

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An evil facade, does not mean quite the essence of evil

Both adults and children were more likely to say that heroes had good hearts than heroes with bad hearts. “In other words, people believe there is a disconnect between the villain’s outer behavior and their true inner selves,” says lead author Omscheid. This contradiction is greater for the villains than for the heroes. “On the inside, the villains are a little less evil than they appear on the outside, while the heroes are just as good inside and out.”