Why do Good People Become Evil?

November 19, 2009 :: Mark Sandilands, PhD
Moderated by Pano Karkanis


Throughout human history, the concept of evil has often been used to explain human behaviour. For example, evil was used to explain disease and natural disaster in earlier centuries, the Holocaust of WWII, and of course there’s the recent use of the phrase “Axis of Evil” by George W Bush in 2002. An enduring question is whether evil is a permanent characteristic of some people or temporary behavior because of the situation they are in.

Using recent events such as reports of torture in war situations, Mark Sandilands will present a social psychological analysis of evil, showing how little-recognized external factors can lead ordinary people to commit acts that might be considered evil.

Speaker: Mark Sandilands, PhD (Professor Emeritus, Dept of Psychology, University of Lethbridge)

Mark came to the University in 1968, the second year of its existence, and took early retirement in 2000 after 32 years. His areas of interest include general, social, and environmental psychology, personality factors in social behaviour, social and environmental factors in institutional care of the elderly, and family violence research.

Mark was a candidate for the NDP in the provincial elections of 2001 and 2004, and the federal election of 2008. He also ran for a seat on the board of the Lethbridge Regional Hospital in 2001. He is a frequent contributor to the letters section of the Lethbridge Herald and other publications.

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