The Social Psychology of Good and Evil

By Arthur G. Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
VIOLENT EVIL AND THE GENERAL
AGGRESSION MODEL

CONTEXT

CRAIG A. ANDERSON

NICHOLAS L. CARNAGEY

On April 20, 1999, the 110th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birthday, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 13 people and wounded another 23 in their high school in Littleton, Colorado. On September 11, 2001, in a coordinated attack, terrorists hijacked four commercial jets and succeeded in flying two of them into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City, and one into the Pentagon. The fourth, apparently targeted for the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, crashed in a Pennsylvania field when passengers attacked the hijackers. The final death toll was over 2,800 (The National Obituary Archive, 2002).

We label the most extreme forms of aggression as “violent evil” in this chapter. Hopes that the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust would produce a worldwide rejection of such inhuman actions and a resulting end of genocidal practices, a cessation of wars among nations, and a reduction in homicide rates have been dashed by the realities of war, homicide, and genocide in the last half of the 20th century. The litany of recent genocidal events is both long and depressing, including major massacres in Uganda, Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Hercegovina, among others. The beginning of the 21st century has not provided much relief either, as clearly illustrated by the September

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