Before jumping to a conclusion, take a lot at the findings of researchers who worked on the subject- What makes good people do bad things?
Multiple credible studies tell us that the right dose of social situations can change good people to evil doers. These studies confirm that the line between good and bad is not fixed and people can cross over any time based on the environment.
What would persuade good people to do evil things? Take a look.
- Influential , larger than life, authority figures- In a study, volunteers were ordered by people in authority and power to give electric shocks to people who answered questions incorrectly, they surprisingly complied- more than 80% of them. All that was needed was a command from those in power.
- Dehumanizing and labeling- In a study, when victims were given demeaning tags like “animals” and “traitors” it was found that normal people found it easier to hurt them. Such labeling made it easier for people to justify their acts.
- Breaking it down- People found it easier to inflict pain on others when they were made to do minor acts first and then progress on to do major things.
- Group think and Peer Pressure- When a group of people do it, you do it along with them. You get drawn into the actions of the mob regardless of whether you agreed with them or not.
- Anonymity- When people were given masks, they readily embarked on evil deeds. When everyone was given masks, the issue became graver, as if they lost their humanity altogether. Explains why warriors changed their appearance by donning war paint.
The psychological analysis done on the perpetrators at the Abu Ghraib prison and plotters of terror attacks confirm the above without doubt– It’s not a question of rotten apples. It’s a question of rotten barrels rather.
During communal riots, you often find peace loving, ordinary folk joining marauders at the instigation of popular, influential leaders and doing unthinkable acts of violence. These leaders create such situations by indulging in name calling and de humanizing, by fueling prejudices and demonizing groups of people or communities. They also ensure that small skirmishes happen over time, thereby creating a snow ball effect that builds enough momentum to break good will , good sense and the forces of good.