Examples of Everyday Evil

Everyday evil can be hard to spot. Serial killers, infamous dictators, terrorists and acts of genocide are usually what come to mind when we think of embodiement of evil. It would be one thing if these examples of evil were self-contained, yet everyday society is inundated with smaller, more simplistic demonstrations of what evil can look like. The complicated situational psychological and physiological changes that can occur in a normally compassionate person during times of duress can move people to do things they'd typically never consider. Abuse of power, hostile or unsafe working conditions, emboldened online bullies, messy divorces and exploitation of the elderly all lack the basic elements of regard for fellow humans. So what pushes seemingly ordinary people to commit these less-recognizable acts of evil?

Psychologists, sociologists and other researchers have been asking the same thing. Many of the changes that occur which empower generally nice people to do bad things come in the form of circumstantial (when the opportunity presents itself), mental illness, trauma and more. For example, the phenomena behind the tendency for people to recite negative comments and hateful speech online is known as deindividuation—or using the security of anonymity to detach oneself from empathy on the Internet. What makes us cross the line between good and evil? Watch this playlist to learn more about the small ways—with big implications—in which everyday evil lives among us.

Written by Curiosity Staff August 25, 2014

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