Prior research suggests people's abstract views of torture are often negative. We suspected, however, that those views might not fully represent torture perceptions in a scenario where they felt closeness to the potential victims. To test this idea, participants read a scenario about a crisis situation and completed measurements of their support for torture usage in the scenario. Scenarios varied in their degree of personal closeness to the victim. Results from 2 studies suggest that people were considerably more likely to support torture in applied, personally relevant scenarios compared to at-a-distant scenarios involving unknown victims. These studies can inform both our understanding of torture perceptions and the current cultural debate between deontologists and consequentialists about this topic.
- personal closeness
- ticking time bomb
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Safety Research