skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 228727 Find in a Library
Title: Promoting Aggression and Violence at Abu Ghraib: The U.S. Military's Transformation of Ordinary People Into Torturers
Journal: Aggression and Violent Behavior  Volume:14  Issue:5  Dated:September/October 2009  Pages:388-395
Author(s): Adam Lankford
Date Published: October 2009
Page Count: 8
Type: Literature Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: This paper draws from past research on organized aggression and violence to explain how the United States military transformed relatively normal soldiers into abusive guards at Abu Ghraib.
Abstract: Evidence is provided that the combination of (1) basic military recruitment and training strategies, (2) general authorizations for increased aggression and violence after 9/11, (3) specific authorizations for more aggressive interrogations, and (4) coercive pressures, protections, and the use of dehumanization at Abu Ghraib led otherwise normal military personnel to abuse and torture detainees without typical moral restraint. In 2003, at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, members of the United States military tortured detainees. Previous research indicates that the vast majority of those who carry out violence to serve a system are ordinary people. Their aggressive behavior is seen as not rooted in their dispositions, but the product of systematic and situational factors. This social psychological explanation for the torture at Abu Ghraib is supported by growing evidence of widespread United States military crimes throughout Iraq. This paper suggests that the United States military transformed ordinary soldiers into the cruel and ruthless guards at Abu Ghraib and utilizes past research on organized aggression and violence to explain this transformation. References
Main Term(s): Military crime
Index Term(s): Attitude change; Behavior modification; Human rights violations; Literature reviews; US Armed Forces; Violence; Violence causes; War crimes
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.