Two psychologists argue that everyone's mind contains a liar, a cheat, and a sinner. But there is always a saint, too.
The dichotomy of good and evil is as old as the story of the world, and timeless in its relevance to just about everything we do in life, from our political and spiritual views to our taste in music, art, and literature to how we think about our simple dietary choices. But while most of us recognize that these concepts of good and bad aren't always black-and-white categories, we never cease to be surprised when someone or something we've perceived as "good" does or becomes something we perceive as "bad," from an esteemed politician's transgression to a beloved celebrity's slip into addiction or Scientology or otherwise socially undesirable behavior.
In Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us, researchers David DeSteno and Piercarlo Valdesolo explore this curious disconnect through the rigorous lens of science. Drawing on their research at the Social Emotions Lab at Northeastern University, the authors offer a fascinating yet highly readable perspective on the psychology of the hero/villain spectrum of human character, inviting us to reconceive personality, both our own and that of others, with a more balanced moral view that reflects the fluidity of human psychology.