Is there a scientific research of good and bad people? Preferably an easy-to-read summary thereof.
The definition of “good” and “bad” is itself a part of the question, because a good definition should match what actual people do, so it is an empirical question. (Unlike e.g. Comte’s definition of “altruism” where the person who helps others but takes pleasure in doing so, is just another selfish bastard. This does not classify people usefully at all. I am interested in the non-empty categories of actual human behavior.)
The established deep wisdom says that nobody is perfect, and you shouldn’t judge people… either never, or until you walked a mile in their shoes (which for most practical purposes also means never). But of course we judge people all the time unofficially, and occassionally officially (by legal system), so it seems to me that the deep wisdom actually means “as a low-status person, shut up and let the high-status people do the judgment”.
Some people instinctively try to help other people, and try to fix things. Other people take joy in hurting others and destroying stuff. This is kinda the thing I have in mind when I call people “good” or “bad”. What causes this?
Milgram experiment tries to explain how people become bad under pressure. That is also interesting and relevant, but I am more interested in what makes people good or bad when they are not under pressure.
Are good and bad even opposites? Are good people less likely to do bad things, and vice versa? Or is it actually more about people being agenty and doing lots of stuff, some of it good, some of it bad, vs people being passive? What about people who e.g. driven by ideology believe that they are doing lots of good, but in fact are mostly hurting others—are they psychologically more similar to the (non-ideological) good people, or the (non-ideological) bad people? What about people who dream and talk about helping others, but never actually do it?
How much is good and bad determined by nature or nurture? As far as I know, psychopathy has a strong genetic component. Besides that, are there known genes for e.g. friendship or philanthropy? How much influence does the culture have on people being good and bad? Is there perhaps just a tiny minority of intrinsically good people, a tiny minority of intrinsically bad people, and most of the population is neutrals who mostly just follow peer pressure? Religions try to instill some good behaviors in people; how much do they actually succeed?
I suspect that a lot of my intuition about good and bad people is a typical mind fallacy, and that I live in a bubble that I have created by associating with people similar to me; perhaps for people living in different bubbles, differents things are “obvious” or “absurd”. People can have weird blind spots; some people can be genuinely unaware that things like “friends” or “helping each other” actually exist. Perhaps the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to ethics, too; both the good and bad people underestimate how good/bad they actually are. (For example, bad people can genuinely believe that everyone is bad, and that what seems as “good” is either stupidity or scam.) Is there an official goodness test that would put me on a scale?
There is a lot of contradictory popular wisdom. People who were victims of something bad, are there more likely to become fighters against the bad thing, or more likely to become abusers themselves? Are rich people more selfish, or is philanthropy a costly signal of wealth? I would like to know the truth of this all.