Do you find yourself more dazzled by the evil than the hero characters in movies and shows? You’re not alone.
A recent study finds that when viewers shares traits with villains like Darth Vader, Lex Luthor or Mr. Burns, they tend to find them likeable. They are simply more relatable to us.
The research suggests that stories and fictional worlds can offer a ‘safe haven’ for comparison to a villainous character that reminds us of ourselves.
“When people feel protected by the veil of fiction, they may show greater interest in learning about dark and sinister characters who resemble them.”, says Rebecca Krause, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University and lead author on the paper “Can Bad Be Good? The Attraction of a Darker Self”, in a press release.
“People want to see themselves in a positive light,” noted Krause. “Finding similarities between oneself and a bad person can be uncomfortable.”
However, Krause and her co-author Derek Rucker found that putting a bad person in a fictional context removes that uneasiness.
“When you are no longer uncomfortable with the comparison, there seems to be something alluring and enticing about having similarities with a villain,” explained Rucker.