Campbell M & Vollhardt JR
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
The rhetoric of good and evil is prevalent in many areas of society and is often used to garner support for "redemptive violence" (i.e., using violence to rid and save the world from evil). While evil is discussed in psychological literature, beliefs about good and evil have not received adequate empirical attention as predictors of violent versus peaceful intergroup attitudes. In four survey studies, we developed and tested novel measures of belief in evil and endorsement of redemptive violence. Across four different samples, belief in evil predicted greater support for violence and lesser support for nonviolent responses. These effects were, in most cases, mediated by endorsement of redemptive violence. Structural equation modeling suggested that need for cognitive closure predicts belief in evil, and that the effect of belief in evil on support for violence is independent of right-wing authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, and dangerous world beliefs.
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