• The Psychology of Good and Evil: Understanding Extraordinary Behavior from Altruism to Atrocities

  • By: Catherine A. Sanderson
  • Narrated by: Catherine A. Sanderson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 15 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Have you met a true hero? We’ve all read about truly bad people. Why do some people do extraordinary good while others choose evil? Are we responsible for our actions? What impact do genetics and upbringing have on moral choices? What does science show us about altruism, prejudice, authority, and group influence?  

You will explore these and many other provocative questions in Professor Catherine A. Sanderson’s 15-lecture audio course, The Psychology of Good and Evil.

An award-winning psychology professor and celebrated author, Prof. Sanderson is known for her deep knowledge of current research as well as her humorous and engaging teaching style. This course is characteristic of her oeuvre: well-crafted, carefully articulated, thoroughly researched, and targeted to our historical moment. 

Throughout the course, Prof. Sanderson alludes to the social ills and global conflicts that you hear about on the nightly news. Her elucidation of research from the fields of psychology, biology, and neuroscience will also help you put names to the positive and negative behavioral phenomena you’ve experienced in your own life.

Early on, you’ll learn how scientists define the notions of good and evil - concepts that are prone to oversimplification. From there, you’ll explore complex and fascinating questions about the predictors of such behavior. The knowledge you’ll glean this course will help you better understand yourself and the society in which you live.

This course is part of the Learn25 collection and includes a free PDF study guide.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 Now You Know Media Inc. (P)2018 Now You Know Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Catherine Sanderson is an electrifying speaker. Armed with a commanding stage presence that few can match, she delivers outstanding, highly energized lectures with inimitable style, heartfelt honesty and genuine intellectual panache. Prof. Sanderson navigates...The Psychology of Good and Evil in a riveting, multifaceted and enlightening way that always leaves her audiences spellbound." (Marc Lapadula, MA, MFA, senior lecturer, The Film and Media Studies Program at Yale University)

"Catherine Sanderson's intelligence and work on The Psychology of Good and Evil are renowned throughout the academic community and the popular media. In addition, Dr. Sanderson is widely recognized for her tremendously engaging speaking style. This topic, combined with her dynamic, charming personality, will captivate audiences of all ages and interests." (Karen Huffman, emeritus professor of psychology at Palomar College, San Marcos, CA)

What listeners say about The Psychology of Good and Evil: Understanding Extraordinary Behavior from Altruism to Atrocities

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Terrific presenter; surprising, profound insights

Upon listening to the first lecture, I was immediately hooked. Sanderson engages you immediately by upending what you think you know about good and evil behavior. Bringing in relevant examples from current events as well as time-worn psychological exercises, she shows how neither evil nor altruistic behavior is easily traceable to one factor. I appreciated the chance to go deeper into psychological concepts of which I had only a surface understanding, such as the bystander effect, and emerged from the last lecture with actionable steps for how to increase my capacity for empathy. Great course!

2 people found this helpful

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Engaging thought experiment ahead

Catherine Sanderson does a good job of exploring different examples and explaining the psychological terms and background to particular events to analyze why people do the things we do. A fascinating look into human behavior.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Profound. Amazing presentation.

Catherine Sanderson is a rock star professor. This is her 2nd Learn25 audio course I've had a chance to enjoy. In this series, she reviews the science - biological, psychology, sociological - behind extraordinary behavior, both good and bad. Her course asks fundamental questions about human nature, and provides some startling answers. Within giving too much away, I want to say her examples are compelling and provocative.

1 person found this helpful

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Not what I expected.

The author and/or presenter definitely seems to have a liberal bent. I will definitely have to ponder what is called "everyday evil". Was hoping for more in-depth study of psychology.

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  • UK
  • 10-07-21

An insightful look into good and evil

The first six chapters for me seemed kind of meh (overall, I liked the 'good' better than the 'evil') , but, starting from Chapter 7, it got quite fascinating for me, because the ideas seemed deeper, the definitions clearer, and there were more terms describing psychological or medical phenomena.
I personally needed some time to get used to the narrator's accent. At first, it distracted me; however, the professor speaks very clearly, and it is easy to follow.
It is more like a lecture course (prof. Sanderson herself calls the chapters lectures) rather than an audiobook, and there are some little stutters here and there, so if you expect a perfect mixed and mastered audiobook experience, this one is not for you.
All in all, it was an insightful listening experience, and I think it gave me some tools that will help me be a better person, especially in times of emergency.

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Objective Look at Good vs Evil

I find myself drawn to the idea of good vs evil, as this concept seems to apply to many of the developments we see on the news every night. However, some times the discussion of good v evil gets tangled up with people's personal viewpoints on religion and morality. In this course, the professor (who's from Amherst College in Mass.) sticks with scientific studies to provide an unbiased look at what makes people act selfishly vs altruistically, amongst other interesting questions. The narrator is steady and clearly knows her stuff. I would recommend this course to any one at all interested in the topic.

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Disappointing

I looked forward with much excitement to this course. The subject matter, as it were, promises new ideas, arguments and vibrancy. Disappointment! The delivery is just monotonous narration and reading! Uninflected. So by default, i just couldnt go farther than lecture 2. Waste.

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Broad Coverage of Symptoms, Misses the Core

For me it was maddeningly clueless, but that is the fault of philosophy, the historic inadequacy of which is the true core of evil - which is really a reaction against cluelessness.

To criticize psychology in general, the author covers current erroneous mindsets based on wrong interpretations of superficial experiments, dwelling on symptoms rather than the fundamental cause of evil (continued universal human cluelessness).

The author fails to identify the basis for distinguishing between good and evil (again, the fault of philosophy for failing providing humanity with the Ultimate Objective Value of Life (enlightened higher consciousness) and its associated Ultimate Goal of Life (securing it in a harsh and deadly universe), which would have revealed, with further thought, the ultimate distinguishing factor between good and evil (the Ultimate Goal of Life), which provides Ultimate Morality. I would spell it out, and I just did.