The Social Psychology of Good and Evil

By Arthur G. Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 18
REDUCING HOSTILITY
AND BUILDING COMPASSION

Lessons from the Jigsaw Classroom

ELLIOT ARONSON

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

—W. H. Auden

This chapter is more like a story than a scientific essay—a story about converting “evil” into “good”—or, more specifically—hostility into empathy and compassion. If Dickens had not already co-opted the title, this story could be called “A Tale of Two Cities.” The cities I write about are Littleton, Colorado, and Austin, Texas.


LITTLETON AND THE LIKE:
EVIL PEOPLE OR EVIL ACTIONS?

Let us begin in Littleton. On April 20, 1999, two Columbine High School seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold—heavily armed and angry as hell—walked into their school building and went on a killing rampage. By the time they were stopped, 15 people lay dead (including the shooters) and 23 were injured—some with severe wounds. It was the worst massacre

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