Situational Variables In The Lord's Resistance Army

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Situational variables (SV) – environmental aspects that can affect human behavior – can be manipulated to influence "ordinary" people into committing evil acts. They are prevalent throughout historical situations during which horrendous atrocities were committed by non-sadistic civilians. In the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a religious rebel group fighting against the Ugandan government, situational variables such as exit costs, authority, and hazing are manipulated to brainwash abducted children into committing murders. Investigating the most important situational variable the LRA manipulates to raise ruthless and devoted child soldiers may help us understand why abductees serve the LRA despite the physical and psychological damage the…show more content…
It induces compliance, the modification of behavior in response to a direct request. LRA abductees undergo indoctrination rituals that instill fear and brutality. According to ex-LRA soldier Charles Akallo, “training” consists of village raids, during which children were ordered to shoot two villagers in the head. LRA commanders forced abductees to lick the blood of victims they shot, or cut victims’ skulls open to eat their brains. Children showing weakness were severely beaten or killed: Charles himself was often threatened at gunpoint, and once received fifty cane strokes for taking “too long to kill someone”. (Parry, 2013). Killing becomes a ceremonial routine: during executions, children queue around the victim, each boy beating and cutting the soldier. By repeatedly ordering soldiers to kill and rewarding those that follow commands, the LRA manipulates two of Cialdini’s six factors of compliance: commitment and social proof. If abductees are forced to murder and are praised for doing so, they will most likely commit more murders willingly later on. Frequent punishments not only toughen abductees but also provoke them to inflict pain on others, thus making them more

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