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The Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal


A.    Soldiers convicted of abuse and humiliation of detainees.

1.      Soldiers abused their power/authority on prisoners that were in their care.

2.      During this torture detainees were threatened with Military Police K9s, beaten, dosed in cold water while they were naked, made to pose nude with empty sandbags covering their heads while zip tied, assaulted with broom handles, told they would be raped, and some were sodomized.

II.Why the Event Occurred: Theory I

A.     Infrahumanization and Dehumanization

1.      Infrahumanization occurs when the in group (those with authority) feel that the out group (detainees) are less than human.

2.      Dehumanization occurs when people are treated as animals.

III.Why the Event Occurred: Theory II

A.     Moral Disengagement

1.      Moral Disengagement is a term from social psychology for the process of convincing the self that ethical standards do not apply to oneself in a particular context


  1. Analysis—Basic Perceptual and Cognitive Processes

A.     Basic Perception


  1. The basic perception at this time is that these inmates are less then human hence do not need to be treated as such.


  1. Cognitive processes control social behavior adapting to the social settings.


IV.Analysis—Dual Process Model

A.     Analysis—Dual Process Model

1.      In some inferences there is a system 1 vs. system 2. System intuition vs reasoning. The intuition side is crude and slow learning and the reasoning side is analytic and fast learning.





Bandura, A. (1999). Moral Disengagement. Retrieved February 7, 2020, from

In this article Mr. Bandura talks about how people use moral disengagement to convince themselves that ethics do not apply to what they are currently doing. Moral disengagement is then further broken down into four categories. The four categories are reconstructing immoral conduct, diffusing responsibility, dehumanizing the victim, and misrepresenting injurious consequences


Forsberg, C., Thornberg, R., & Samuelsson, M. (2014). Bystanders to bullying: fourth- to seventh-grade students’ perspectives on their reactions. Research Papers in Education, 29(5), 557–576. doi: 10.1080/02671522.2013.878375

In this Journal the authors discuss bystanders and their role when it comes to witnessing bullying. The journal discusses how children view the situation as  relationships is this person a friend or how are they viewed socially, defining seriousness is this just teasing or can someone seriously get hurt, victim’s contribution to the situation (did they ask for it), social roles and intervention responsibilities (is it my job to interfere or is it someone else’s, and distressing emotions what are all the cues. The most interesting thing that they saw was that there was moral disengagement the students did not feel that they were morally obligated to have to intervene and stop the bullying.


Vaes, J., Leyens, J.-P., Paladino, M. P., & Miranda, M. P. (2012). We are human, they are not: Driving forces behind outgroup dehumanisation and the humanisation of the ingroup. European Review of Social Psychology, 23(1), 64–106. doi: 10.1080/10463283.2012.665250

In this journal they review recent empirical extensions that shed more light on understanding and knowing the differences between what is know as the ingroup which is the group that is humanized and the outgroup which is the group that suffers from the dehumanization. The foundation that separate the boundaries of these groups is also discussed.


Lurigio, A. J. (2009). The Rotten Barrel Spoils the Apples: How Situational Factors Contribute to Detention Officer Abuse Toward Inmates. The Prison Journal, 89(1_suppl). doi: 10.1177/0032885508329773

This journal reviews a book written by Philip Zimbardo the man that conducted the Stanford prison experiment. In the book Zimbardo shows comparisons between his experiment and what happened in Abu Ghraib.