Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology; College of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Clabaugh

Second Advisor

Dr. Moore

Abstract

Past studies have demonstrated that it is possible to create empathy and a more positive regard for stigmatized groups of society. This study set out to examine whether it was possible to create empathy for a terrorist through the use of perspective taking. This study also examines the effect of creating empathy on willingness to condone human rights violations and willingness to recommend severe interrogation techniques. To achieve this, we created a fictitious story of a terrorist, which would be typical to the average Syrian man, and then asked participants to write for three minutes about their thoughts and feelings going through daily life as if they were the terrorist they read about and were living his life. The results of this study did not support the primary hypothesis. While the main hypothesis was not significant, we did find support for gender differences and political affiliation effecting how high participants scored across the entire study. Specifically we found that both male groups and consverative groups condoned more human rights violations as well as approved of more severe interrogation techniques compared to both female and liberal groups. These results indicated that attitudes towards terrorists are more resistant to change compared to attitudes towards other negatively stigmatized groups.

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Perception of Others and Their Actions

Past studies have demonstrated that it is possible to create empathy and a more positive regard for stigmatized groups of society. This study set out to examine whether it was possible to create empathy for a terrorist through the use of perspective taking. This study also examines the effect of creating empathy on willingness to condone human rights violations and willingness to recommend severe interrogation techniques. To achieve this, we created a fictitious story of a terrorist, which would be typical to the average Syrian man, and then asked participants to write for three minutes about their thoughts and feelings going through daily life as if they were the terrorist they read about and were living his life. The results of this study did not support the primary hypothesis. While the main hypothesis was not significant, we did find support for gender differences and political affiliation effecting how high participants scored across the entire study. Specifically we found that both male groups and consverative groups condoned more human rights violations as well as approved of more severe interrogation techniques compared to both female and liberal groups. These results indicated that attitudes towards terrorists are more resistant to change compared to attitudes towards other negatively stigmatized groups.

 
 

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