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Moral Disengagement in the Perpetration of Inhumanities”; PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW

APA Citation: Bandura, A.; “Moral Disengagement in the Perpetration of Inhumanities”; PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW, 1999, Vol. 3, No. 3, 193-209. SYNOPSIS: A series of experiments were conducted to test the theoretical argument that moral agency is manifested in the power to refrain from inhumane conduct. Bandura reasoned that the ability to behave humanely was developed proactively as opposed to spontaneously or without effort. The Socio-Cognitive Self Theory described self-organization, self-reflection and self regulatory mechanisms were measurable constructs which could make humane conduct possible. Humane conduct, then, was a function of self-concept. Inhumane conduct would reflect a poor or inappropriate sense of self. In hypothetical scenarios, measures of high levels of self-concept would have higher rates of humane solutions and lower self concepts predicted higher rates of inhumane solutions. Hypothesis: Sense of self determines rate of humane conduct. Independent variables: Sense of self, as measures by self-organization, self-reflection and self-regulation. Dependent Variable: Rate of inhumane choices of Scenarios Solutions. Results: Several experiments were described in which several measures of self-concept could predict rate of humane choices in hypothetical scenarios, and poor self-concept predicted the choice of inhumane scenario solutions. CRITIQUE: This paper was both chilling and compelling. I found this paper credible and very useful. The results supported Bandura’s predicting that self-concept could predict degree of humanity in chosen solutions in hypothetical scenarios. Because so many parts of self-concept were considered this is a Humanistic type of argument. However, because the reasoning behind the solution was described, this paper could also support several Cognitive models. Particularly, Socio-Cognitive Self-Theory. Interestingly, because the background checks of the subjects, via surveys, often found the inhumane behavior and poor self-development was correlated with certain parental models, it could also be argued that this line of research supports particular Behavioral Models. Specifically, Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, would suggest that parents who model inhumane conduct are more likely to have children with unreasonable self concept development which would lead to a greater rate of inhumane conduce. Somehow, watching certain parental roles would model such behavior and that would vicariously reinforce the development of poor self-restraint, disordered self-reflection and poor self organizing. These backgrounds would not inspire a proactive mentality, toward humane choices. Bandura’s line of research could not only be used to explain self-development, but might serve to understand inhumane, cruel conduct. The identification of unreasonable explanations that justify cruelty could be used in interventions. The models could further be used to develop humane solutions for moral dilemmas. More research could disclose specific approaches for particular cases.


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