Presentation on theme: "The Social Psychology of Genocide: What Turns Good Men and Women Into Murderers."— Presentation transcript:
The Social Psychology of Genocide: What Turns Good Men and Women Into Murderers
Reasons To Examine This Topic All of us will be touched by genocide Psychologists have skills and have developed a knowledge base not available to politicians, journalists, historians, etc Chance to talk about where we are going as well as where we have been
Holocaust Six million Jews (67% of Europe’s population) were exterminated Others: Roma, mentally retarded, mentally disturbed, 3 million Soviet POWs, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, Socialists
William Shirer Pioneering foreign correspondent Wrote Berlin Diary Wrote Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
William Shirer’s Analysis Why did so few Germans resist working in the concentration camps? A summation of western history since the Magna Carta Implies that a German-style concentration would not flourish in the US, Britain, France, Italy, etc
Adolph Eichmann Supervised trains during the ‘Final Solution’ Imprisoned in American POW camp What kind of person would contribute to the deaths of millions? Captured by Israelis in 1961, tried and executed.
Hannah Arendt and Adolph Eichmann Arendt was a prominent social philosopher employed by the New York Times to cover the Eichmann trial Summarized her conclusion in Eichmann in Jerusalem: On the Banality of Evil
Adolph Eichmann and Arendt’s Hypothesis Slightly above average intelligence, no sign of pathology on psychological tests, good organizer Other than during the ‘Final Solution’ there is no evidence of criminal activity Viewed himself as a good soldier who believed that not one Jew died because he was born Arendt’s Hypothesis: In obedience to authority the average person will commit extreme anti-social actions such as mass murder.
Questions Involving Genocide Will genocide be a consistent state of affairs during the next several decades? Under what conditions should the US intervene to prevent genocide? To what extent should color, culture, religion and economics matter? What social conditions lead otherwise good women and men to kill their neighbors?
William Calley Led massacre of 300 unarmed women, children, and elderly Sentenced to life at hard labor Served 5 months and was pardoned by Nixon Married and living a ‘normal’ life outside of Ft Benning, GA
Hugh Thompson put his guns on Americans, said he would shoot them if they shot another Vietnamese, had his people wade in the ditch in gore to their knees, to their hips, took out children, took them to the hospital... Awarded Soldier’s Medal in 1996 Living a ‘normal’ life
Theories of Obedience to Unjust Authority Shirer: Germany lacked a democratic history Arendt: Flaw in human character Milgram: A social psychologist looks at obedience
Ethical Criticisms of Milgram’s Work No true informed consent Participants experienced significant stress Long-term negative effects on self-worth
Milgram’s Response To Ethical Criticism Extensive debriefing After session discovered learner was not harmed Participants were free to leave No evidence of permanent psychological harm
Follow-up of Milgram’s Participants 80% reported that they were “Very Glad” or “Glad” they participated. 15% had “No Strong Feelings” Just over 1% were “Sorry” or “Very Sorry” 80% said more research of this kind should be done. 74% said they learned something of lasting value.