His dark eyes stare straight at the lens, his hair tousled so it falls just-so to one side, just as any teen idol or rock star would want to debut on a national magazine cover. He’s called a “monster,” but the Rolling Stone cover image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shows anything but such a beast. And that’s why people are so uncomfortable with it.
While seeing an attractive picture of a villainous person isn’t likely to change our opinion of that individual’s egregious acts, as the uproar over the image indicates, it could lead us to feel some emotions that we may not think are appropriate. That includes sadness, and perhaps even a douse of empathy over why an attractive person would commit a terrible crime, says Ellen Berscheid, a social psychologist at the University of Minnesota who studies interpersonal relationships.
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