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Article
Publication date: 8 April 2020

Michael Shachat, Fang Hong, Yijing Lin, Helena Syna Desivilya, Dalit Yassour-Borochowitz, Jacqui Akhurst, Mark M. Leach and Kathleen Malley-Morrison

This study aim to examine the themes of moral disengagement (MD) and engagement in reasoning regarding a putative governmental right to kill innocent civilians when…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aim to examine the themes of moral disengagement (MD) and engagement in reasoning regarding a putative governmental right to kill innocent civilians when fighting terrorism.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 147 participants from Israel, 101 from the USA and 80 from South Africa provided quantitative rating scale responses and qualitative explanations about such a putative right. Qualitative responses were coded for presence or absence of indices of MD and engagement.

Findings

In ANOVAs by gender and country, men scored higher than women on rating scale scores indicating support for the right; there were no significant national differences on these scores. Chi-square analyses with the coded qualitative responses indicated more men than women gave morally disengaged responses, proportionately more South Africans than Israelis provided morally disengaged responses and proportionately more South Africans and Americans than Israelis provided morally engaged responses. Pearson correlation analyses indicated that MD was positively correlated with rating scale scores and moral engagement was negatively related to rating scale scores in all three countries.

Research limitations/implications

Regarding limitations, it is difficult to know how the omission of qualitative explanations of rating scale responses by many participants influenced the statistical findings – or how to interpret the more restricted level of qualitative responses in Israel and South Africa as compared to the USA.

Social implications

Programs designed to counteract MD have the potential for helping reduce support for war and its inhumanities across diverse nations.

Originality/value

This is the first study on MD to compare American, Israeli and South African perspectives on the justifiability of human rights violations in the war on terror. The findings go beyond earlier studies in finding gender differences in MD that occurred across three very different nations in three very different parts of the world.

Details

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-6599

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