Based on the Trait/Cognitive theoretical perspective compare Good vs. Evil

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The trait/cognitive theoretical perspective proposes that biological and environmental factors are the producers of the traits and attributes that define our personalities.

These biological factors come in the form of inherited traits such as the strengths and weaknesses that we genetically acquire from previous generations.

The environmental/cognitive factors correspond to the learned behaviors and personal choices that have motivated us to become the way that we are.

Under this premise, "good" would be described as a state of mind that is inherent to the individual; this means that you are "born good". Based on Gordon Allport's trait theory (1936) this state of mind shows central traits that include honesty, trustworthiness, charity, sympathy, and emphathy. Cardinal traits, or rare traits developed later on, may include selflessness, altruism, and sacrifice. Secondary traits may include kindness, charisma, and heightened spirituality.

Under that same premise proposed by Allport, "evil" would also be deemed as inherent. Central traits of "evil" would show antisocial attributes that directly conflict and contrast with those of "good". Hence, it is assumed that those who are born to be "bad", will engage in challenging and dangerous behaviors to cause harm in self and others. Cardinal traits of "evil" behavior consist on pathological behaviors such as oppositional defiant disorder, sociopath behaviors, borderline and psychopath personalities. Cardinal traits are the result of long-lasting or increased exposure to emotionally or physically harmful behaviors, and their rarity is what sets pathological behavior aside. Secondary traits of "evil" behaviors are basically the conduct that occurs right before pathological behavior sets in. This conduct includes anger, vindictive behavior, sadistic and vicious conduct, and overall inappropriateness.

Under trait theory, these behaviors are not controlled by the individual but by the individual's nature. However, there is enough research that proves that, through conditioning and behavioral therapy, inherited traits do not need to follow their natural course and can actually be reverted.