Persons would also exhibit violent behavior based on how they interpreted and processed the social information they were subjected to at different points in time (Tajfel, 1978, p. 67). Bullies in learning institutions, for example, are always more than willing to put to play threatening cues and acts that they attained from their surroundings by observing and retaining violent trends in behavior, which they were able to execute behaviorally.
The important role played by social cognition is something that could be witnessed through individuals’ utilization of political propaganda in their efforts to stimulate armed conflict. Malicious persons would always make other people to believe that certain groups of persons were the enemy while in real sense they were not. It was achieved by portraying the ‘other party’ as diabolical, aggressive and untrustworthy in the eyes of the people they hoped would join them in their fight to attain dominance over another group (Tajfel, 1978, p. 68). Such forms of description usually exhibited the second party as rapacious and subhuman, thus making the people who bear all the deception to believe that acts by the second party were dehumanizing. Therefore, it was important that the oppressor be stopped by every possible means even if that meant using violent acts. For instance, during the Second World War, both the authorities in the government of Japan and the United States government painted their rivals in a negative manner to give their troops the courage to massacre their opponents relentlessly. The soldiers were made to believe that they were going to fight against persons who did not deserve to continue living due to the atrocities that the soldiers were made to believe their opponents committed in their surroundings. Such forms of incitement were thought of as the most effective way of preparing the soldiers for the kill. Authorities in the military from both countries believed that it was quite easy for their soldiers to kill people they were made to believe to be subhuman and savage as opposed to persons they knew to be innocent or without blame. In the Rwandan genocide, the Hutus were incited to kill the Tutsis who were described as ‘cockroaches’ who did not deserve to be left to continue encroaching into the properties and resources believed to be the sole possession of the Hutus.
Nonetheless, the decisions that leaders made at different points in time were influenced by cognitive factors. Under increased levels of threat and fear, people would always find it difficult to think straight or reason their way out of various situations they found themselves entangled. Individuals would always work towards minimizing things that would overburden their minds by adopting a more simplified view of the world around them. In situations of violence the warring parties would always develop notions of the “Good Us versus the Bad them” (Jones, 2006, p. 230). Such perceptions always prevented individuals from seeing the true nature of their states of being and the differences that subsisted between them and other groups of people. While under duress, people in different positions of office usually found it easy to simplify the things they dealt with or find the simplest strategy in going about their daily life activities. When leaders were cornered in a complicated situation such as a conflict, leaders hardly explored diverse arguments concerning a crisis. Similarly, a majority of leaders who found themselves in the heat of a crisis often overlooked the differences that subsisted amongst the opposition and most of them showed reduced tolerance of ambiguity. The turn of events as mentioned in the statements above would only lead to oversimplification and misguided action.
In situations whereby people faced occurrences that involved increased levels of uncertainty, people relied on shortcuts in making the most difficult decisions they encountered without consciously planning their course of action in any kind of situation. Persons would evaluate and approach current threatening situations based on the events that occurred in the past. This was dependent on the patterns of conflict that were readily accessible in the mind. If, for example, negotiations did not play so well with a previous conflict, then individuals would resort to alternate strategies in resolving their misunderstanding. The reason is individuals would have formulated the misconception that regardless of the amount of effort they would put to play there would be no time that they would be able to resolve their conflict situation through negotiation. This was just like in the case of the soldiers who were deployed to war torn areas without the slightest clue of whether they would return home to their loved ones at the end of it all (Jones, 2006, p. 234). In addition, a good number of leaders always strived to avoid losses in undertaking various activities in their surroundings. One way through which most leaders believed they could minimize losses in their endeavors is by taking risks that were much greater than the ones they would have taken to attain the goals they were not initially able to reach.
Different social systems could propagate incidences of violence including the community, family unit, ethnic group and society. Violence could also erupt at the international level depending on how individuals correlated with one another in the society (Haslam, 2006, p. 262). All the institutions or units have so much in common in ways that a majority of persons may not be aware of at any particular point. Violence that may occur at one level may propagate increased levels of aggression at other levels. For instance, at the individual level events that occurred in individuals’ minds such as stereotypes often made individuals exhibit discriminatory behavior. Such forms of behavior could be part of a group process that supported violent national policies as well as exclusionary trends in behavior. Wars that transpired between different groups of people pressurized a majority of persons not to associate with the people they believed were their enemies. This could lead to bad blood or increased disparities at the interpersonal level and community level.
Three Kinds of Violence: Episodic, Structural, and Cultural
Aggression has always been regarded as violence, which are all propagated through individuals’ actions (Dwyer, 2009, p. 382). Both terms give the feeling and understanding that harm would be done in the long run. Aggression would also imply actions that individuals carried out intentionally. However, it is important to note that violence may or may not be intended. Nonetheless, violence would always occur at various levels of social convolution.
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