Correspondence | Published:

Interrogation: hard for psychologists to act as whistleblowers

Nature volume 459, page 1052 (25 June 2009) | Download Citation

Subjects

Sir

I was disappointed in your Editorial 'Responsible interrogation' (Nature 459, 300; 2009). You accept the role of psychologists in secret interrogations because they can supposedly act as whistleblowers against inhumane treatment. But your argument ignores nearly fifty years of psychology research, beginning with the classic work of Stanley Milgram (see, for example, J. Abnorm. Soc. Psychol. 67, 371–378; 1963), showing that isolated individuals — including, yes, even psychologists — are notoriously poor at resisting pressure from authorities to act in abusive ways.

The position you take is naive, and in adopting it you allow yourself to be 'played' by those elements in the government and the military who are most willing to commit extreme violations of human rights.

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  1. Department of Psychology, Earlham College, 801 National Road West, Richmond, Indiana 47374, USA  jacksmi@earlham.edu

    • Michael R. Jackson

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https://doi.org/10.1038/4591052a

See also Interrogation: our professional body forbids involvement.

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