Immersion in fictional worlds

People feel comfortable exploring perspectives in fiction that would be too disturbing in real life.

Studies show that people who possess a specific trait seem more drawn to fictional villains who show the same trait. For example, intelligent participants were drawn to intelligent villains, hot-headed people to hot-headed villains, etc. However, participants were uncomfortable identifying with real-life villains.

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Dismissing our dark side

We strive to see ourselves as 'good' and feel, deep down, that we are fundamentally honest and moral. We tend to dismiss the idea that darkness could lie within us.

Research shows that we avoid others who seem similar to us but 'bad' in some way, such as learning about a serial killer who happens to like the same movie or food as us.

When it comes to fictional villains, people are drawn to villains that are similar to them. This is because fictional villains are harmless.

But when watching fictional villains in a social context, people are less likely to identify with the villain, fearing they may be judged harshly for their similarity.

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RELATED IDEAS

Psychologist Carl Jung had once hypothesized that the traits we find irritating in someone else can tell us a lot about ourselves. Many studies have confirmed this insight.

We seem to be attracted to people who have similar positive traits as ours while being repulsed by people like us who also have negative traits.

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.

It's a cold-war set in space, with politics aligning towards left of center. It showcases the dangers of nationalism, with great leaders ending up causing enormous damage and harm because of their being hard-core patriotic.

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