Angels and Demons Are Among Us: Assessing Individual Differences in Belief in Pure Evil and Belief in Pure Good

Russell J. Webster, Donald A. Saucier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


We conducted five studies to demonstrate that individuals' beliefs in pure evil (BPE) and in pure good (BPG) are valid and important psychological constructs. First, these studies together demonstrated that BPE and BPG are reliable, unitary, and stable constructs each composed of eight theoretically interdependent dimensions. Second, these studies showed that across a wide variety of different measures, higher BPE consistently related to greater intergroup aggression (e.g., supporting the death penalty and preemptive military aggression) and less intergroup prosociality (e.g., opposing criminal rehabilitation, proracial policies, and beneficial social programs), while higher BPG consistently related to less intergroup aggression (e.g., opposing proviolent foreign relations and torture) and greater intergroup prosociality (e.g., supporting criminal rehabilitation and support for diplomacy). In sum, these studies evidence that BPE and BPG relate to aggressive and prosocial orientations toward others and have strong potential to advance current theories on prejudice, aggression, and prosociality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1455-1470
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

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