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The Social Psychology of Evil
Transcript of The Social Psychology of Evil
Foster the Lucifer Effect
“Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Then take that first step
Diffusion of Responsibility
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
― -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
Start with a Foot-in-the-door
"It always starts with 15 volts...and then increases in gradual steps that do not seem like noticeable differences." - Phil Zimbardo
Dial down our humanity
Adjusting our Empathy
-Present an acceptable justification
"They started it!"
Competitive Victimhood: We are the real victims
Even better if you can assign a meaningful role with that justification.
- Alter semantics of the act/action
Shocks = punishments for wrong answers
Torture = enhanced interrogation
We committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.
- Jim Jones, Death Tapes
Preserving our belief in a just world
Activation of empathy for targets can inhibit aggression in most cases
Turn off recognition of humans
Disinhibition of aggressive responding
Empathy-deficiencies linked to aggression
"Imaging data lead to the hypothesis that antisocial, violent, and psychopathic behavior may in part be attributable to impairments in some of the brain structures (dorsal and ventral PFC, amygdala, and angular gyrus) subserving moral cognition and emotion." - Miczek et al., 2007
"I'm not going to be responsible for this." - participant in Milgram study
"I felt like I became invisible."
Mere presence effect
Presence of others increases arousal
"The psychological self-attention and deindividuation theory has argued that lynching atrocity will increase as a function of the relative number of mob members. Two series of analyses (one using newspaper reports and the second using photographic records) using different and nonoverlapping samples of lynching events rendered a consistent pattern of results: Lynch mob atrocity did... increase as a function of the relative numbers of mob members in the lynch mob." - Leader et al. (2007) in Without Mercy: The Immediate Impact of Group Size on Lynch Mob Atrocity
Anonymity & Aggression
Then Invoke Consistency
Broken Windows Theories & Brutalization Effects
As few as 3
Conformity on the Brain
Normative Social Influence
Berns et al., 2005
Independence - Amygdala & Caudate Nucleus
Conformity - Occipital Lobes
Resolve to "see" what the group sees
But they also had many followers
All examples had
How do you get so many to go along?
Filter and censor information to insulate/isolate group
Reinforce conformity to norms
Direct and indirect pressure & derogation
Foster group cohesion/entiativity
Illusions of invulnerability
Unquestioned belief in group's morality
Illusion of Unanimity
Create "Suitable Targets"
Create Groups: Us vs. Them
Fire up Emotions
Reduce Empathy to Targets
: Enhancing empathy for ingroup members viewed as victimized by outgroup can INCREASE willingness to attack outgroup members as NOW it is justified as "protecting one's own."
Losing our Self
It's What's to be Expected
Have their reasons
The Susceptible Circle
& use Cognitive Dissonance
Which part of the brain is activated among those who resist conformity?
A.) Occipital lobes
B.) Medial Prefrontal Cortex
D.) Anterior Cingulate Cortex
________________________ argues that the emotional content of speeches can incite violence.
A.) The Toxic Triangle theory
B.) The ANCODI hypothesis
C.) The Susceptible Circle taxonomy
D.) The Deindividuation model