Morality matters. People tend to like the good guys and dislike the bad guys.

In a new study, researchers suggest that we don't need to see behavior to make a distinction between the hero and the villain.

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What makes us root for the bad guy?

weforum.org

One study manipulated what characters looked like and measured audience perceptions. They hoped to find out if simple differences in appearance would be enough for viewers to perceive a character as a hero or villain.

The findings indicate that we judge based on comparisons and not because of using an objective standard of morality. Heroes were judged to be more heroic when they appeared after a villain, and villains were judged to be more villainous when they appeared after a hero.

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Framing the villain

When an audience sees the evolution of a character whose ethics progressively spiral downward, they don't turn against the character. Instead, they remain loyal to him. especially when the antagonists concurrently get worse with the villain.

It's likely the result of a constant comparison with other characters. It shows the importance of how characters are framed.

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