The line between good and evil is removable, permeable, and perceived to be an illusion. Evil acts entail exercising power with intentions of influencing people psychologically, physically and perpetuate crimes against humanity. However, human beings have the inherent nature of being responsible; responsibility could be a situational force in behavioral contexts that influence people’s way of thinking and behavior. The rhetorical and social situation analyzed in relation to the given parameters in this essay is bullying. Therefore, aggressiveness and hostility in human character (bullying) is a coping mechanism of individuals faced with threatening and dehumanizing conditions in their surroundings.
This research will focus on the transition on peoples’ characters from good to deviancy; for example bullying, perpetuating homicides, and acts that motivates autoerotic deaths. The first part of the paper will deal with definitions of terminologies associated with bullying. Then, the second part will give a tentative claim pertaining to the results of the research. This will be followed by the third part, which will expounds on the literature review in the same discipline, that is, the analysis of the working bibliographies. The fourth part will highlight on the findings regarding bullying, in common social setting and in prisons. This will include a general description of bullying, the motivating factors for bullying, socio-psychological processes that enhance evil or change of character, and the effects of bullying basing on findings from the research. Lastly, an argumentative point will wrap up the research paper pertaining behavioral modification.
Definitions of terminologies
Obedience refers to the human behavior of being submissive to authority because of social influence. In turn, it can make one commit a vice or can be a beneficial virtue. For instance, intentional killing of an innocent person is a vice while killing an enemy of the innocent people is a virtue.
Conformity refers to the act of complementing or matching peoples’ beliefs and behaviors to those of the entire group’s norms, with the aim of fitting to the group. It occurs mostly as groupthink. That is, a series of thoughts, which has elements of self-deceit, while ignoring the realistic appraisals of other alternative courses of actions.
Propaganda encompasses all means of influencing the position or attitudes of people by availing skewed information, repeatedly, using a variety of channels of communication.
Behavior modification is application of the empirical techniques of behavior change with the aim of altering the behavior and reaction of individuals to external stimuli. Its reinforcing is through extinction, punitive rewards, or satiation (Elias and Pratkanis, 147-162)
Bullying is a practice occurring at all levels, between inmates and /or by the law enforcers. Bullying is a copping mechanism to unfavorable external forces in the immediate environment. Deviancy in human behavior in a prison setting is due to unsupervised practicing of military authority.
Professional negligence by military authorities perpetuates bullying and other inhumane acts within the prison’s walls and thereafter in the community.
Bullying leads to physical and socio-psychological distress and permanent traumas.
Bullying is not dependent on extra-legal issues for example, race, gender, or ethnicity but on social situations that people face.
According to the video clip on “The psychology of the evil” based on Philip Zimbardo, transformation of people’s character could be due to dispositional or the inherent characters of the people, which compels them to deviate from what is perceived as good to evil. People’s lives are comparable to that of the actors on stage. This is because they portray what is not real. In most cases, people’s actions will supersede the external influencing forces, which include poverty, hostility experienced in childhood or witnessing a cruel act and familial conflicts.
The forces in the surrounding environment, which includes but not limited to political power, control over the economy and legal authority, predisposes people to behavioral transformation due to the power in their system. These sentiments are highlighted in Stanford’s Study, which provides cautionary measures for general military operations, including detention. The study recommendations fosters on oversight of military power or any kind of legal authority because it will be a prescription for abuse in the end. For example, military could inflict pain and injuries, intentionally, to detainees when sourcing for information (Zimbardo 4).
The concept of “Lucifer effects” as illustrated in Philip Zimbardo’s video clip acknowledges the minds’ infinite capacity to influence peoples’ behavior. It provides a psychological view on what makes people behave kindly or cruelty to others. Notably, depending on certain circumstances, people are compelled to behave in certain ways; naturally, they are an amalgam of different personality traits (positive or negative), which becomes dominant depending on the condition one is facing (Schlesinger report: parallels SPE & Abu Ghraib). In the Abu Ghraib prison, inmates experienced dehumanizing acts and as a result, their minds adapted the situation. Therefore, strong inmates resorted to violence and bullying behaviors as survival tactics at the expense of the weaker prisoners (Schlesinger 6). General Fay’s report backs up the premises on how the system fails in its mandate in regulating military power as a tool for behavior change. It challenges the environment created by the leadership because of their inability to control the incidences of abuse of power.
Bullying can also emerge from capitalizing on the ignorance of the people by persuading them to obey absurd orders. Obedience as a factor to character transformation is evident in the 1978’s Guyana episode. Reverend Jim Jones, a pastor of the Peoples’ Temple, supposedly a “Man of God,” becomes an angel of evil by persuading his followers, 912 Americans, to commit mass suicide by killing other family members (Zimbardo 4).
Individual authority to control behavior is analyzed when good people are exposed to bad situations or conditions that could lead to negative character transformations. For example, in prisons where military guards are brutal, inmates are encouraged to develop negative imagination, which leads to villainy. On the other hand, the same situation can inspire heroic imagination to those who intend to become successful. Consequently, the same situation, which influences people to become villains or heroic, can render them as passive bystanders because they are inflicted by guilt of evil inaction. In spite of Asch’s model contribution on the insight to deviant behavior, it does not provide a rational approach to deal with bullying. Disruptive Behavior Pyramid model formulated by Hickson et al (1048) is for the opinion that leadership should suggest possible remedy to interpersonal problems. According to Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (5), emphasis on problem solving is holistic. That is, concern is on socio-centrism and encouragement of individuals to adopt the set code of conduct. Blaming military officers of abuse power, in the case of General Fay’s findings, shows faults in the chain of authority. The disruptive behavior pyramid offers constant surveillance on individual’s exercise of power and demands for its accountability.
Social pressure jeopardizes individual judgment capacity to critical issues. The same is evident in other studies, which are a replica of Asch’s experiments. The results correlated the level of ridicule and humiliation that followed the outcome. Contrary to these findings, Perrin and Spencer, (132), research revealed a weakness in Asch’s model. Its reliability was questioned when the students from other disciplines (mathematics, engineering and chemistry) participated in the research whose findings shocked many. On 396 trials, only once did the participant conformed to the majority who responded wrongly. Thus, Asch’s concept of conformity is not ideal to all situations. On average, 41.4% of 15 million workers reported incidences of psychological trauma on weekly basis, this emanated from psychological bullying that culminated from past job encounters.
Bullying cases are common in learning institution; for instance, education centers in England, wales and the Republic of Ireland should adopt stringent anti-bullying measures to avert this behavior. Notably, 50 % of students in America who have experienced bullying report the same to the relevant authorities while others suffer in silence; an attitude linked to fear and eroded power of the authorities. In addition, the same research showed a low proportion of male students in the number of reported cases (Smith and Shu 114).
These findings prompted for further research that sought to unveil the misery behind the escalating bullying cases despite the efforts put forward to combat the same. Fekkes and his colleagues’ research portrays that teachers who receive bullying complaints, do not do much to salvage the problem. Prejudice and biased analysis of bullying cases influences the possibility of diminishing the bullying attitude in learning institution. Therefore, teachers’ interventions in bullying cases have less impact on positive behavior change. Consequently, bullying cases are preferably shared to colleagues than to adults because the results are neither guaranteed nor satisfactory (Fekkes 13).
The research conducted to find out the relationship between aggressiveness and hostility in human character and their immediate dehumanizing conditions; showed that, bullying is a practice occurring at all levels and in different spheres of life although manifested in different forms. In addition, bullying is a copping mechanism to individuals who perceive the vulnerable ones as threats in their progress, as portrayed in various researches from learning institutions (Zimbardo 6).
Deviancy in human behavior, in a prison setting, correlates the degree of unsupervised authority endowed in the military. Professional negligence by military authorities perpetuates bullying and other inhumane acts within the prison’s walls and the society. The research conducted by labor and industry department revealed physical and socio-psychological distress and permanent traumas on individuals who have experienced the act of bullying. Conclusively, bullying has no relationship with extra-legal issues. That is, there is no instance where race, gender, or ethnicity has formed the basis of bullying.
Research findings on bullying have shown negative and devastative effects of bullying. For example, the findings from the Abu Ghraib prison shows how traumatized the inmates were, after the sodomized exposure. Apart from the physical injury and the psychological traumas inflicted to people, deaths are part of the bullying process. Several factors encourage bullying; whether in the professional or social settings, and as highlighted in the above researches, uncontrolled power could trigger its abuse and reinforce the bullying attitude, inferiority complex, and poor upbringing on the children’s part due to exposure on hostile environment could encourage thriving of bullying (Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, 5).
Socio-psychological processes that facilitate evil or change of character to evil
Bullying begins with mindlessly copping and implementing the initial minor steps of a bullying character. The next step that reinforces bullying is deriving satisfaction from acts that dehumanizes other people. Responsibility of the person starts to diffuse. That is, a person becomes egocentric and despises the benefits of socio-centrism. The fatal stage in reinforcing a character, for example bullying, is to obey and implement orders that promotes impunity, blindly. Conforming to the norms of the group without a critical attitude is an obvious option for people who have assumed a certain character not to feel out of place from the majority norms. The last stage of a character is to assume a passive and tolerant part on the evil being perpetrated; by being inactive or indifferent (Zimbardo 3)
Behavior modification encompasses a complex approach to transforming a natural humane attitude to that of a villain. Myths explaining the origin of deviancy behaviors correlate certain research findings. Both perspectives embrace the idea that behavior is learnt through observation and experience. Nurturing of the behavior is enabled by the prevailing situational factors that surrounding people. One of these situational factors is the force to conform to a certain predisposed behavior or attitude. Basing on the contradicting findings from Asch’s (1951) results and the findings from a similar research conducted by Perrin and Spencer (1980), renders the reliability of Asch’s result as doubtful; since there exist variations to conformity on judgmental of tasks between the British students in engineering, physical sciences and mathematics and students from other disciplines. This could probably imply that mathematics and science students are independent in their reasoning, are more factual and specific to problem solving compared to other students in different disciplines.
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