1 Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, National Demonstration Center for Experimental Psychology Education (Beijing Normal University), Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2 School of Government, Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai 201701, China
The ideas of good and evil characteristics have a long history in Chinese language and culture, with these characteristics considered to be two aspects of the Chinese personality. Abundant descriptions of good and evil characteristics can be found in human nature. However, the specific structures of good and evil concepts have not yet been delineated clearly and detailed studies on these concepts are limited. A careful definition is important with regard to what comprises a good or evil personality and to understand the psychological structure of the two concepts.
A lexical approach was applied to determine constitutes a good or evil personality in Chinese culture. In Study 1, a set of 3, 240 good and evil personality descriptors was selected from The Contemporary Chinese Dictionary and accompanied by daily life expressions. The list was condensed into 62 good and 65 evil items following evaluation and selection by 12 psychology graduates. In Study 2, we explored the dimensions of a good personality using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with Sample 1 (n = 313) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with Sample 2 (n = 518). Results revealed that good personality contained four dimensions: conscientiousness and integrity, altruism and dedication, benevolence and amicability, and tolerance and magnanimity. We refined the four-dimensions good personality lexical rating scale, which contained 27 items. In Study 3, we used the same method as in Study 2 to explore the structure of an evil personality (EFA: Sample 1, n = 367; CFA: Sample 2, n = 269). Results showed the evil personality contained four dimensions: atrociousness and mercilessness, mendacity and hypocrisy, calumniation and circumvention, and faithlessness and treacherousness. Thus, we employed a 28-item evil personality lexical rating scale. The internal consistency, reliability, and criterion-related validity of the two scales were verified.
The study found four-factor structures of good and evil personalities using the lexical approach and psychometrics methods, which contributes to knowledge on personality. In China, Confucius regarded benevolence as the highest moral principle for a person. Therefore, good and evil traits are embedded naturally in the personality structure of Chinese people. Understanding the structure of good and evil is useful for researchers interested in Chinese culture and for studies in Chinese indigenous psychology.
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