People differ greatly in their beliefs in pure good (BPG) and beliefs in pure evil (BPE), but little is known about how people develop such beliefs. In two studies using nationwide convenience samples (Ns = 384 and 345), we used trait (Big 5; HEXACO) and moral (moral foundations theory; Kohlberg's theory of moral development) theories to uncover potential underpinnings of BPG and BPE. After controlling for demographics and ideology, traits (Agreeableness) and moral foundations (Care/Harm) reliably predicted BPG in both studies. The Big 5 and HEXACO more inconsistently predicted BPE, although lower Openness related to BPE across both studies. Greater endorsement of the Authority/Subversion and Sanctity/Degradation moral foundations uniquely predicted greater BPE across both studies. Further, BPE correlated with (but did not uniquely predict) lower postconventional moral thinking; BPG did not relate to postconventional moral thinking. These results should help researchers formulate more specified developmental pathways for BPE and BPG.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes