What People Think About Torture: Torture Is Inherently Bad...Unless It Can Save Someone I Love

Shannon C. Houck, Lucian Gideon Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-454
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Applied Security Research
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Keywords

  • personal closeness
  • ticking time bomb
  • Torture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Law

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