Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The psychology of torture

Researchers at Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences have been conducting (pain-free) research into the psychology of torture. In the study one of the research team was 'tortured' (although in reality she was acting) by having her hand submerged in supposedly icy water. At different times she displayed indifference to the 'torture' or implied pain by whimpering and pleading with her 'torturers.' The 78 participants, who witnessed the 'torture' via a hidden intercom, were told that the women might have fraudulently taken money and that the study was about moral behaviour. Half of the participants met the woman who was being 'tortured' and half did not. Those participants who had met the woman saw her as being more guilty the more she suffered while those who had not met her saw her as being more guilty the less pain she felt.

You can find out more about this research at

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