Evil

Roy F. Baumeister, Author
Roy F. Baumeister, Author W.H. Freeman & Company $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7167-2902-0
Paperback - 431 pages - 978-0-7167-3567-0
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-8050-7165-8
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In this open-minded, provocative, unsettling inquiry into the causes of evil, Baumeister rejects the entrenched view that low self-esteem causes violence and aggression. On the contrary, he argues, violent or evil people tend to have highly favorable opinions of themselves, and cross the line to commit immoral, hurtful acts when they feel their egotism is threatened by others. Among the root causes of evil he identifies are ambition, desire for power or wealth, misplaced idealistic adherence to a creed or doctrine and sadistic pleasure. He applies this framework, with varying degrees of persuasiveness, to an analysis of diverse evils: murder, rape, street crime, war, petty cruelty, emotional abuse, wife beating, government repression, racial and ethnic hatreds. A social psychologist at Case Western Reserve University, Baumeister believes that evil grows and spreads when cultures stop restraining individuals' angry, violent impulses--a process abetted by desensitization, yearnings for revenge, group conformity and inadequate socialization or upbringing. His rewarding study challenges--and complements--traditional, religion-based views of evil with a humanistic perspective. Author tour. (Nov.)
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