Who Roots for the Villain: A Survey on the Psychology of Positive Engagement with Villainous Characters

Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Anne Fiskaali, John A. Johnson, Mathias Clasen, Henrik Høgh-Olesen, Murray Smith

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


This project brings a personality psychological perspective to the debate about why and how so many people sympathize with, or root for, or simply like unambiguously villainous characters. The presentation reports the results of a large-scale online survey (n=1804) that explores the connections between personality and positive forms of engagement with villainous characters. In particular, it explores whether the personality psychological constructs of Agency/Communion and/or the Dark Triad (consisting of the traits of Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy) predict positive forms of engagements with villainous characters. The results of the survey suggests that the Dark Triad is uniquely predictive of positive forms of engagement with villainous characters.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date13 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2019
EventSCSMI 2019: The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image - Hamburg University, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 12 Jun 201915 Jun 2019


ConferenceSCSMI 2019
LocationHamburg University
Internet address

Cite this