News: People’s beliefs about good and evil characters in cartoons and comedies are influenced by their views of good and bad in ordinary humans, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo investigated why movies and folktales often depict the devil and demons as eager to grant accidental requests, whereas angels are not depicted this way. They conducted five experiments to find people’s expectations about good and evil agents. The team asked 2,231 participants to read short stories about a protagonist’s request to either a human or supernatural being and then rate the likelihood the request would be granted.
Researchers observed that when the request was directed to someone good, ratings depended on whether the requester actually understood what they were requesting. Participants expected evil individuals to grant requests just as often when they were confused and didn’t reflect the requester’s intentions. The results indicate people’s beliefs about good and evil characters are influenced by their views of ordinary humans.
“Our results suggest people expect good agents will be sensitive to intentions behind requests whereas they expect evil individuals will be relatively insensitive to these intentions,” said Ori Friedman, lead author of the study. “These findings shape people’s expectations about requests directed both to regular humans and to supernatural agents.”
To Know More You May Refer To:
Dunk, R. J., Goulding, B. W., Fugelsang, J. A., & Friedman, O. (2021). Butt-dialing the devil: Evil agents are expected to disregard intentions behind requests. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/emjvz