Term Paper: Social Influence in January 2004 Upper Level

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Social Influence

In January 2004 upper level military personnel received word that a SGT had filed concerns that some of his fellow military police guards were treating prisoners of war badly (Hasenauer, 2004).

The ensuing investigation lasted seven months and was conducted by several agencies before the final determination was made that prisoners of war in Abu -- Ghraib were treated inhumanely by American soldiers. It was a story that was heard around the world as anger mounted against the Americans who claimed to be fighting against Saddem's regime and inhumane treatment of people and then did the same thing to prisoners of war.

The report identified 27 personnel from the 205th MI Bde. who conducted abuse; 23 Soldiers and four contractors. It also identified eight personnel who failed to report abuse when they witnessed or were made aware of it. In addition to the MI personnel, the report identified three more MPs and two medical Soldiers who abused detainees or failed to report abuse (Hasenauer, 2004). "

The soldiers involved in the abusive actions and failure to report have been tried and sentenced to varying periods in prison however the one thing that was not taken into account throughout the process was significant impact that Social Influence contributed to the situation. Social influence is the phenomena by which people are coerced into behaviors by others that they would not normally display. Social influence has been proven to change the way people think and act, therefore I will argue that the soldiers involved in the situation at Abu-Ghrain should not be held individually responsible for their actions.

Social Influence

The theory behind social influence is that one's social environment provides significant influences in the way one thinks acts and reacts to different situations (Paynton, 1995).

The social influence theory has been tested in many areas of life and is currently used as programs are developed to prevent drug abuse and giving in to peer pressure (Abernathy, 1993). One of the more negative evidences of the impact that social influence has on individuals is in the number and actions of gangs across the United States. Gang activity is often violent and committed by young adults who alone, would not commit such acts of aggression, however, with the support and urging of the other gang members it becomes a way of thinking and a new mindset for the individuals involved.

To illustrate the strength and power that social influence has on individuals a study conducted in 1992 examined the importance of social influence on teenagers developing the habit of smoking (Abernathy, 1993).

The research used a sample population of more than 7,500 students and found that those who were at risk for smoking were under a social influence that was pro-smoking, while those who were not considered at risk for future tobacco use did not have social influence that promoted the use of tobacco products. This study validated the belief that an individual's mindset can be changed through the social influences within that person's life (Abernathy, 1993).

In examining the soldiers who abused the prisoners, it can also be found that the individuals who participated in the actual abuse were also influenced socially by the group mindset, coupled with the daily stresses of being in a war zone.

A more recent study conducted on adults with regard to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Social Influence in January 2004 Upper Level."  Essaytown.com.  March 31, 2007.  Accessed November 13, 2019.
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