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Why your favourite film baddies all have a truly evil laugh

11 October 2018

Towards the end of the Disney film Aladdin, our hero’s love rival, the evil Jafar, discovers Aladdin’s secret identity and steals his magic lamp. Jafar’s wish to become the world’s most powerful sorcerer is soon granted and he then uses his powers to banish Aladdin to the ends of the Earth.

What follows next is a lingering, close-up of Jafar’s body. He leans forward, fists clenched, with an almost constipated look on his face.

He then explodes in uncontrollable cackles that echo across the landscape. For many millennials growing up in the 1990s, it is an archetypical evil laugh.

Such overt displays of delight at others’ misfortune are found universally in kids’ films, and many adult thriller and horror films too.

Read more about the psychological story behind this archetypal villainous laugh on a guest post by David Robson on our Research Digest blog.

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