Social Psychological Perspective

Basic Idea of the Social Psychological Perspective:

  • Social psychology is the study of the relations between individuals and people
  • They are interested in how ‘regular’ people can commit atrocious crimes
  • Stanley Milgram (1933 – 1984) was a psychologist at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania
  • He was specifically interested in how Nazi’s were able to commit horrible acts of genocide – he focused on how people could do this just by following orders

  • Milgram Experiment

  • Torturing and killing innocent civilians 
  • Displacement of responsibility and dehumanizing the victim are two categories of moral disengagement
  • Bandura (1999) states, “People behave in ways they would normally oppose if a legitimate authority accepts responsibility for the consequences of that behavior. Under these conditions, people view their actions as the dictates of authorities rather than their own actions.”
  • According to reports in the article, the torture and abuse of the civilians was approved and facilitated by the White House
  • According to Bandura, (1999) person can justify torture by losing empathy for the victim while convincing himself that the victim lacks human qualities
  • Furthermore, once the victim is dehumanized, he is no longer viewed as a person with feelings, concerns or hopes but as a subhuman object that is easily tortured (Bandura, 1999)

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