Webster investigates, publishes findings about belief in evil, in good

Nov 19, 2013

Russell Webster ’03, North Central College visiting assistant professor of psychology, has copublished a study, titled “Angels and Demons Are Among Us: Assessing Individual Differences in Belief in Pure Evil and Belief in Pure Good,” in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. His coauthor is Donald Saucier, a faculty member in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Kansas State University.

Webster and Saucier conducted five comprehensive studies to demonstrate that individuals’ beliefs in pure evil and in pure good are valid and important psychological constructs. Together, the studies demonstrated that both beliefs are reliable, unitary and stable constructs, and that those who believe in pure good are fundamentally different from those who believe in pure evil.

The studies also showed that across a wide variety of different measures, higher beliefs in pure evil consistently related to greater intergroup aggression and less intergroup prosociality, while higher belief in pure good consistently related to less intergroup aggression and greater intergroup prosociality. In sum, these studies evidence that both beliefs relate to aggressive and prosocial orientations toward others and have strong potential to advance current theories on prejudice, aggression and prosociality. Click here for more information.

Webster started teaching at North Central in 2013. He received his B.A from North Central College in 2003, his M.A. from Ball State University and his Ph.D. from Kansas State University.