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“The Psychology Of Evil”

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Presentation on theme: "“The Psychology Of Evil”"— Presentation transcript:

1 “The Psychology Of Evil”

2 Questions to be Addressed
Can good, ordinary people be transformed into monsters or perpetrators of evil? Are there certain psychological factors that can help facilitate this transformation?

3 Sabrina Harman-student that graduated from Fairfax County Public Schools who took AP Psychology.

4 Warm Up Get out HW After quiz, clear your desk and get a marker or colored pencil

5 Dispositional vs. Situational
Fundamental Attribution Error: social psychological theory that maintains people explain others behavior by overestimating the impact of internal disposition and underestimating the impact of situational influences. Dispositional Example: those who took part in the Abu Ghraib abuse were sadists or prone to abusive tendencies. Situational Example: external influences and the social environment mostly explains the abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib.

6 Social Thinking How we explain someone’s behavior affects how we react to it Negative behavior Situational attribution “Maybe that driver is ill.” Dispositional attribution “Crazy driver!” Tolerant reaction (proceed cautiously, allow driver a wide berth) Unfavorable reaction (speed up and race past the other driver, give a dirty look)

7 Diffusion of Responsibility
Diffusion of Responsibility is a social phenomenon which tends to occur in groups of people above a certain critical size when responsibility is not explicitly assigned. Examples: Bystander Apathy: less likely to help emergency victim when many people around. “Just following orders”—happens in hierarchy Firing Squads: only one has bullet.

8 Group Pressure and Conformity
Conformity: means to adjust your behavior to fit in with a group. Solomon’s Asch’s study illustrated the power of group influence and conformity. de=1&safe=active

9 Obedience to Authority
Stanley Milgram’s study is most famous for illustrating the powerful situational influence of authority. Study completed in Milgram created the study in part because of his Jewish heritage. “If Hitler asked you, would you execute a stranger?”

10 Milgram’s Obediance Study
Participants are told they are participating in a study based on the effects of punishment on learning behavior. 3 Basic People in Study: Participant: teacher who will read word pairs to the “student.” Student: actor that will be shocked if answers incorrectly. Experimenter: authority figure in lab coat that instructs the participant what to do.

11 Milgram’s Experimental Design
The range of electrical shocks had 30 variables ranging from mild shock (15 volts) to Danger Severe Shock and XXX (450 Volts).

12 Milgram’s Obedience Study
Major Question: how many people would inflict the maximum voltage on the “learner?” Prior to the experiment, psychologists believed fewer than 1% would inflict maximum damage. Actual Results: 65% of participants gave “learner” maximum shock despite feelings of discomfort, no participant stopped prior to 300 volt level. In studies compliance was as high as 90% and as low as 10% depending on the variables used.

13 The Power of Obedience: How?
Start with an Ideology---purpose is to help science find better ways of learning. Use authority to legitimate ideology---Yale experimenter. Give people desirable roles with meaningful status--- teacher Have rules that channel behavioral options and agree to them before “game” begins---explanation of experiment and purpose. Have initial harmful act be minimal and subsequent acts escalate gradually---moves from slight shock gradually to severe…foot in the door phenomenon.

14 The Power of Obedience: How?
Displace responsibility for consequences on authority---Experimenter explains he is liable to the “teacher.” Put Actors in a novel setting they are not used to---laboratory Don’t allow usual forms of dissent to lead to disobedience---encouraged to follow agreement. “It is absolutely essential that you continue.”

15 Factors which Influenced Compliance in Milgram’s Study
Obedience highest when: -person giving orders is close at hand. -authority figure is supported by prestigious institution. -victim is depersonalized and in another room. -there are no role models for defiance.

16 Deindividuation Deindividuation: the loss of self- awareness and self-restraint occurring in group situations that foster arousal and anonymity. Women dressed in depersonalizing outfits or masks delivered higher levels of shocks than those who were identifiable. Some argue the process involved in creating soldiers in the military involves deindividuation.

17 Dehumanization Dehumanization: the ability to view the victims of violence as somehow less than human. Humans find it easier to inflict and rationalize violence against victims who seem less than human.

18 Bandura’s Dehumanization Experiments
Group of college students were to help train other visiting college students using shocks when they erred. Participants overhear 1 of 3 statements: Neutral: the subjects from the other school are here. Humanized: the subjects from the other school are here and they seem nice. Dehumanized: the subjects from the other school are here and they seem like animals. Results: escalated aggression toward dehumanized labeled individuals.

19 Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment
Ordinary college students were randomly divided into groups of “prisoners” and “guards.” “Prisoners” were “arrested” in their homes by real policemen, strip searched, deloused and put into a “jail” created in the basement of the Stanford Psychology Department.

20 Deindividuation and Dehumanization In Stanford Prison Experiment
Prisoners: Referred to only as a number Wore ill-fitting smocks without underwear Wore nylon panty-hose over head to simulate shaved head. Wore small chain around ankle to remind them of their imprisonoment.

21 Deindividuation and Dehumanization in Stanford Prison Experiments
Guards: Wore military style uniform, carried wooden baton Given reflective sunglasses to avoid eye contact. Only referred to prisoners by their numbers.

22 Results of Experiment Role Playing affected both groups attitudes.
After a revolt on the 2nd day, “Prison Guards” became more and more sadistic in enforcing the law. “Prisoners” broke down and became more obedient. “Guards” most sadistic when thought experimenters were not watching them. Experiment eventually had to be ended early.

23 Modern Comparison? US soldiers involvement in Abu Ghraib

24 How might social factors have influenced “ordinary” perpetrators in Nazi Germany?


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