Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

The Psychology of Good and Evil


This class examines theory and data on aspects of human behavior that can be classified as "good" and "evil". Empirical approaches and explanations will be evaluated for such topics as genocide, terrorism, torture, domestic violence, bullying behavior, sexism, racism, other-isms, and mob mentality on the evil side. On the positive side, topics such as altruism, volunteerism, helping and being an agent of change will be explored.

 Course Objectives 

Students in this course will be able to –

  • Demonstrate knowledge of different content areas of psychology, sociology, philosophy, media, literature where theory can be applied to issues of good and evil, along with assessment of strengths, limitations, and competing explanations, if any.
  • Recognize major principles and principals in the context of what is good and evil.
  • Provide evidence through lectures, formal writing, and discussions where class materials are integrated, analyzed, summarized, and synthesized.
  • Show evidence of using tools such as critiquing empirical articles, evaluating the relationship between data and theory, questions and evidence for answers, methodological knowledge and application.
  • Provide evidence of knowing and applying ethical principles that must be upheld as students of liberal arts.
  • Attain skills to be agents of change in their current and future environments.

 Teaching Methodology 

  • Lecture and discussion
  • Case studies
  • Experiential activities
  • Guest lectures
  • Quizzes


One course in Psychology is recommended.

 Learning Outcomes 

  • Develop an integrated definition of "good" and "evil",
  • Distinguish between individual and social influences of behavior,
  • Critically evaluate current and historical events to understand and appreciate socio-cultural influences that impact our concept of "good"and "evil", and
  • Offer possible solutions to enhance the good and minimize the evil!

 Course Outline 

S. No. Topic Hours
1. Conceptual Perspective on Good and Evilbr /> 16
2. Harming Others: Context, Causes and Implicationsbr /> 16
3. The Self-Concept in Relation to Acts of Good or Evilbr /> 12
4. The Possibilities of Kindnessbr /> 12