The psychology of the 7 deadly sins

The Psychologist has an engrossing article on the psychology behind the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ and how they relate to modern life.

The piece is full of fascinating and counter-intuitive snapshots from the science of social emotions. For example:

Whereas the success and status of others can provoke envy, pride is what we feel when the success and status are our own. Pride, like envy is a human universal, and is another of the sins considered by psychology to be an emotion. Darwin categorised it alongside states such as vanity and suspicion as a ‘complex emotion’. He also anticipated contemporary research showing that the expression of pride – head held high, arms raised – is recognised universally across cultures and by children as young as four.

In 2008 Jessica Tracy at the University of British Columbia and David Matsumoto at San Francisco State University studied congenitally blind Olympic judo competitors and found that they too showed pride in this way, even though they can’t ever have seen a pride display by anyone else.

The BPS Research Digest blog will also be running a ‘sin week’ in the coming week so keep your eye’s peeled for more bad behaviour.

Link to The Psychologist on the deadly sins.

Full disclosure: I am an unpaid associate editor and columnist for The Psychologist although apart from the occasional lie I live entirely free of sin.

5 thoughts on “The psychology of the 7 deadly sins”

  1. “… apart from the occasional lie I live entirely free of sin.”

    And the lie is: I live entirely free of sin.


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