Studying Collective Violence
This chapter addresses how to conduct meaningful behavioral research on violence. One effective approache is to interview individuals who have actually committed collective violence in the past, and to analyze their responses. Robert Lifton's seminal and provocative work, The Nazi Doctors, introduced this approach by analyzing interviews with twenty-eight physicians involved in Nazi medicine, five of whom had worked in concentration camps as SS physicians or in medical experiments. Three major studies have extended Lifton's approach—Violence Workers, The Psychological Origins of Institutionalized Torture, and Machete Season. These interviews studies are informative, revealing strong influences and individual decisions responsible for horrifying violence work.
Keywords: interview, Robert Lifton, The Nazi Doctors, Violence Workers, Origins of Institutionalized Torture, Machete Season