"Our research suggests that torture may not uncover guilt so much as lead to its perception," says Gray. "It is as though people who know of the victim's pain must somehow convince themselves that it was a good idea -- and so come to believe that the person who was tortured deserved it."This is consistent with the cognitive dissonance model of behavior rationalization.
Not all torture victims appear guilty, however. When participants in the study only listened to a recording of a previous torture session -- rather than taking part as witnesses of ongoing torture -- they saw the victim who expressed more pain as less guilty. Gray explains the different results as arising from different levels of complicity.
"Those who feel complicit with the torture have a need to justify the torture, and so link the victim's pain to blame," says Gray. "On the other hand, those distant from torture have no need to justify it and so can sympathize with the suffering of the victim, linking pain to innocence."
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Torture and cognitive dissonance
From ScienceDaily (via Dispatches from the Culture Wars), a study that suggests that the act of torturing itself leads to the belief that the tortured victim is guilty.
Posted by Hume's Ghost at 11/04/2009