The Psychology of Good & Evil

In 2011, a 2-year-old in China wandered into a busy road and was struck repeatedly by passing cars. Although people walking and driving in the road clearly saw what had happened, not a single person stopped to help for 10 minutes; the child died of her injuries a week later. In Guyana in 1978, nearly 1000 members of the “Jonestown Cult” killed themselves – and their children - by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid following the order of leader Jim Jones. In the 1930s and 1940s, more than 23,000 non-Jews risked their lives to save Jewish people - usually strangers - from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis. What explains these kinds of events? What drives human beings to be so horrifically cruel and callous to one another—or so heroically helpful and generous? Professor Catherine Sanderson examines these complex questions in this talk.