Sample Cultural Studies Paper on Why Are Some People Evil?

An evil person or a person who is morally reprehensible is someone whose actions are perceived to be wrong. For instance, an evil person would be someone who kills an endangered animal for fun or a person who enjoys harming others due to baseless issues. These actions are considered morally reprehensible hence they are defined as evil deeds (Horne, 2008). If evil people truly exist in the world, there are several questions about them that should be answered. Some of these questions include: why are some people evil? Do people know that their actions are wrong? Are people turned evil due to their life circumstances or experiences? Are people born evil? The question of whether human beings are born evil or good has been debated by a number of philosophers for decades. Sigmund Freud perceived new-born babies as a moral blank slate while Aristotle argued that human beings learn morality, and that people are born amoral creatures. The philosophers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes had distinct perspectives regarding the morality of human beings. Hobbes thought of the human race as brutish or nasty. He claimed that for human beings to thrive, they need society and rules to reign in their instincts. Rosseau’s beliefs are different. He presents his argument that man would be pure and gentle if it was not for inequality, greed, and corruption that comes that comes with society.

The recent research on psychology indicate that there is a natural ‘good’ in mankind or at least, babies have the capability to pass moral judgements at their tender age.  For instance, in one of the studies, children are shown a cartoon of three shapes; a triangle, aa square, and a circle.  As the circle tries to climb the mountain, the triangle supports it by pushing it up while the square restricts the movement by pushing the circle down the mountain. After showing this cartoon to the children, they were later shown two toys, a triangle and a square.  According to everyone’s expectation, the children would choose the morally good triangle and they did so. This study included children who were as young as seven months old. To ensure the validity of the study results, the researchers had the shapes switch their roles in the cartoon. The children were then asked to choose the shape they would prefer playing with. As expected, the babies still chose the morally correct shape. This indicates that the children’s choice of the shape was not based on familiarity or something they are used to. Despite the fact that this study does not provide a clear proof that humanity is naturally born ‘good’, it somehow proves that human beings know the difference between wrong and right from a young age (Vroom, 2007). This poses a question whether people who are evil know that their actions are wrong or not.

The majority of people who perform evil actions have personal justifications or motivations for their actions. They often assume that their actions are morally right even if they are doing the things that are not completely justified.  In most cases, evil people do know that their actions are morally reprehensible but their justifications or motivation for their morally reprehensible actions outweighs the fact they are wrong. One of the greatest psychologists Albert Bandura argued that people who engage in evil deeds have justified their actions’ morality to themselves in a way that. By convincing themselves that actions are morally justified, these individuals can disengage and separate themselves from immoral behavior as well as its consequences (Gromet & Goodwin, 2011). It suffices to note that all humans are heroes of their own story. For instance, president Richard Nixon is not considered the appreciated senior individual in the oval office. However, his speech “You will not have Nixon to kick around” portrays that the president thought himself as the victim. This mindset of president Richard Nixon helped blind him to his deeds.  In this regard, the nature of human beings results in the emergence of amorality. If people are not exposed to opposing viewpoints, they can convince themselves of anything. Notably, the actions of president Nixon had another detrimental impact. As the American president he found himself in the center of individuals who had double thoughts about being in a disagreement with the man in power. Having his opinion not challenged for many years appeared to have affected his thinking. No one can exactly tell how the president believed his statement after the presidency, “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Reprehensive deeds are in most cases disguised by people’s intensions of which they have convinced themselves that they are good (Gromet & Goodwin, 2011).  This poses a question whether any rare cases of humans being purely evil do exist or not. Therefore, it is evident that people who are considered evil do what is morally wrong and are often consciously aware of it, but have no justification or motivation to do so.

Hans Reiser who was facing murder charges for strangling his wife in 2008, agreed to plead guilty for second-degree murder and revealed where he had hidden his wife’s body. In exchange, Reiser would not face the death penalty. He requested a new trial after claiming that his conviction was invalid and supported this claim with Paul J. Zak’s research. The research by Paul J. Zak indicate that an ancient molecule in the brain of human beings, oxytocin, makes people feel empathy for others resulting in a moral behavior. According to Zak, the molecule is known as the “moral molecule” which Reiser claimed that his lawyer had lacked and failed to represent him properly in court. Numerous studies by Zak have indicated that ninety-five percent of humans produce oxytocin when they receive a positive social signal. The remainder not release oxytocin even after receiving positive social signal. These are the people who have traits of a psychopath.  Understanding the concept of morality provides a clear insight into the reason why people are bad and why they are good (Stroud, 2016).  People who do not have oxytocin will do anything regardless of their welfare or safety. They are regarded as selfish and often do what pleases them most. Victims of child abuse tend to exhibit this behavior as oxytocin in human brain needs nurturing for proper development.

As stated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, people are born naturally good with a good moral compass and a natural good intent. He believed that humans would be pure if they were not exposed to corruption and greed of the contemporary society. However, some people have immoral behaviors and tendencies. People become evil due to various reasons. Some experienced a rough childhood which changed their though process and behavior as they aged. Some have mental issues contributing to them being immoral. Some believe they are victims of circumstances while others believe they are heroes of their own stories.




Gromet, D., & Goodwin, G. (2011). Blame it on the brain: How neuroscience affects people’s judgments of wrongdoers. PsycEXTRA Dataset.

Horne, M. (2008). Evil acts not evil people: Their characteristics and contexts. Journal of Analytical Psychology53(5), 669-690.

Stroud, A. (2016). Good guys and bad guys. Good Guys with Guns, 83-111.

Vroom, A. (2007). Emptying good-and-Evil: Masao ABE’s approach to the problem of evil. Probing the Depths of Evil and Good.