Aggression/Conformity within the military

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Jenny_Dabber, Feb 13, 2010.

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  1. Justa query really as I was unsure where to look/who to ask.

    I am studying forms of aggression; social and biological explanations in Psychology.

    I'm going down the 'conformity' route, especially experiments such as the 'Stanford Prison Experiment'. Just for example, I have taken an extract from my current essay;

    What I am trying to find is any other Psychological experiment conducted with the military, when it comes to aggression/conformity.. Any country will do, as there is an ethnic venue I will be taking too.

    I thought this was the best place to ask.
  2. wet_blobby

    wet_blobby War Hero Moderator

    You may well want to consider "controlled aggression" within the military. The examples of being provoked and refraining from violence are endless.
  3. Oh I like it, good view point :wink:
  4. Can't remember any military ones sorry but I remember doing conformity in Psychology, was good fun :)
  5. JD

    I've been trying to think of helpful suggestions but can't come up with much at the moment, just off the top of my head stuff.

    My first thought was as to whether there was any scope in your work for the inclusion of Hannah Arendt and the concept of "The Banality of Evil" but that is not really relevant ........ but it did set me thinking in the direction of the Wehrmacht and made me wonder whether there might be anything out there on which you could draw; I can't see how one can escape the reality of Aggression/Conformity within that particular military arena when that arena, itself, was engulfed by social and political structures which themselves were almost the very definition of Aggression and Conformity.

    A quick find was this but not sure about whether it will help you:
  6. Conformity in the Armed Forces whoda thunk it!! :lol:
    Use of Psychology in the Military is certainly documented in the book 'The Men who stare at goats' Jon Ronson (2004) is a wizard wheeze of a read about, amongst other things, a US Army psych warfare unit who explored the usage of paranormal forces in warfare, by staring at goats in an attempt to kill them.
    The use of recordings of Barney the Dinosaur songs as a method of softening up Iraqi/Terrorist suspects is also covered. 8O
    Mad as a box of frogs if you ask me.
    Personally I believe most Military Training relies heavily on psychological pressures on Recruits to get the Training Teams desired result.
    Peer pressure, encouraged by TTs, to conform/perform to a given standard is a well known use of even passive aggression in this type of setting.
    You could also look for studies carried out in such countries as South Africa, Argentina and Chile where the members of those nations Armed Forces carried out acts of torture and/or murder in the belief that they were doing their 'duty'.
    Good hunting.
  7. Jenny,

    If you haven't already done so, you might want to get hold of "On The Psychology of Military Incompetence" by Norman Dixon (ISBN 0-7126-5889-0).

    Although originally published in the 1970s, it has been updated several times and a lot of the theory is still relevant such as the organisational factors that make people do things they wouldn't normally do, why individuals conform, why certain types are attracted to the military etc etc.

  8. Guns

    Guns War Hero Moderator

    I can recommend Lt Col Dave Grossmen's two books "On Killing" and "On Combat". Both should be required reading for all SR and Officers in my opinion but there you go. Both cover the areas of killing to demand and how conditioning and muscle memory plays a greater part than some form of in built desire, so to speak. Very good reads and as said recommend to all.
  9. You may already have read this book, but if not I believe it would be very helpful in your on-going studies in this area:
    On Killing: Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
    by Dave Grossman
    ISBN-10: 0316330116
    ISBN-13: 978-0316330114

    Edit- beat me to it GUNS
  10. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    ...and also "Bravo Two Zero" by Andy MacScabb - it's da bomb! :cool: :twisted:
  11. The day I was sectioned ( arrested about 1730 ) I had marched around doing left/right inclined whenever peeps got in my way assuming I was totaly invincible because of my forces training. Imagined I had S_S clones watching my back the whole time so picked fights with anyone who looked at me ''in a funny way'', the landlady of my local called the plod before I could do anymore damage. Funnily enough I had only had one pint that day, was high as a fcuking kite on adrenalin.

    Some argue that mentally ill peeps have clouded memories, not so in my case, crystal clear. Did my forces experience make me mentally ill/aggressive ?, no it was the shed loads of beer that nuked all my good brain cells.
  12. The Criminal History Of Mankind - Author; Colin Wilson.


    Colin Wilson tells the story of human violence from Peking Man to the Mafia - taking into account the calculated sadism of the Assyrians, the opportunism of the Greek pirates, the brutality that made Rome the ‘razor king of the Mediterranean’, the mindless destruction of the Vandals, the mass slaughter of Genghis Khan, Tamurlane, Ivan the Terrible, Vlad the Impaler and more. Each age has a unique characteristic pattern of crime. In the past three centuries crime has changed and evolved until the sex killer and the mass murderer have become symbols of all that is worst about our civilization. But this is not just a study in human depravity; it is an attempt to place crime in perspective against human discovery, exploration and invention. The result is a completely new approach to the history and psychology of human violence.


    You might also try this link to the psychology of the My Lai Massacre v Obedience to Authority >

  13. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Bergen, many of these ancient peoples had no cultural reason NOT to behave like that. I remenber reading someone's reminiscences of Papua in which he brought a tribal bod from the mountains down to Port Moresby and this chap couldn't understand why we didn't just kill anyone who got in our way (and maybe eat them, but he didn;t say that). The idea that each individual human life is of equal value is rather a modern idea. A Roman could quite lawfully kill his slave; the Old Testament has long rigmaroles about indiscriminate slaughter of anyone with a different point of view. How concentration camp guards in what had been allegedly a Christian country for hundreds of years could sing Christmas carols while their victims suffered is a different question, the same one as Ourador, Lt Calley/My Lai etc.
  14. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    Is it? Are you saying that men are more likely to conform with behaviour which would normally be considered unacceptable because of their testosterone levels? I'm not sure you are but that's how it reads; there is no evidence in Zimbardo's experiments to suggest this as the male and female experiments were gender isolated and non-comparable, Asch's experiments on conformity suggest that in fact women are far more likely to conform with group behaviour than men especially when they are overtly observed.

    The point about conformity has little to do with good and evil which is essentially a different issue, after all what are good and evil? We conform to certain behaviours because that is what we accept as normal and believe to be "good", behaviour outside the norm could be considered as simply eccentric, it only becomes "evil" when it is defined as such by the group, conformity is by definition conforming to "normal" behaviour not a morally measured one such as "good" or "evil" Objectively "evil" behaviour can subjectively be considered good and our perception of what is good or bad can change rapidly if the change is to our benefit (we are without exception selfish, that's why humanity is so successful, almost everything we do is seated in personal or social benefit with very few exceptions) - just read Lord OF The Flies for an example.

    I'd suggest you look at something like the Milgram Experiment which (at least in part) tried to investigate the psychological mindset of concentration camp guards and why they willingly carried out authority led atrocities.
  15. It would be interesting to read the psychological profiles of the good men of the USA who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bet they'd be an eyeopener..
  16. Chief, that was a small part of an essay I wrote, which got graded as an A..............after 9 pages :cry:

    There are many critisms of Zimbardo's experiments, I'm not niave to think there are not. Many Psychology experiments hold faults. Aggression, there is not one true joint categorization of an explanation to it, reason why there are so many 'theories'.

    Thanks everyone, will have a read up on it all. Knew I could count on the brains of RR to giude me :wink:
  17. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    The other 8 pages must have been very good :wink:
  18. Tibbets in Enola Gay and Bock in Bock's Car.

    When I was a kid we had a school visit from the British observer Gp-Capt Leonard Cheshire........ he was a monk by then and had a face like death.

  19. Nah, they were just blank :lol:
  20. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Tibbetts went on to Major-General. Enola Gay was his mother (USAAF aircraft captains got to name their A/c).

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