¶ … Lai massacre that occurred in March 1968 and led by Lieutenant William L. Calley took the lives of more than 500 Vietnamese civilians, including elderly men as well as women and children. This event fueled growing outrage in the United States over the war in Vietnam and contributed to the groundswell of calls for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Vietnam altogether. This paper provides an examination of the social and psychological environmental influences for the My Lai massacre, a discussion concerning the development of attitudes in response to a passive environment as they relate to the massacre, a discussion concerning the implications of the My Lai massacre and its legacy. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings concerning these issues are presented in the paper's conclusion.
In March 1968, soldiers from the U.S. Army's Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment of the 11th Brigade, Americal Division attacked the Vietnamese village of My Lai, massacring more than 500 people, including elderly men, women, and children (Willbanks, 2014). This high-profile event because the focus of increasing scrutiny by many Americans who viewed the event as symbolizing the futility of prosecuting the war in Vietnam (Willbanks, 2014). To determine the facts, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature concerning the My Lai massacre that involved U.S. troops in Vietnam. To this end, four specific sections are included....
The first part is an examination of the social and psychological environmental influences that contributed to the massacre and the second part provides a discussion concerning the development of attitudes in response to a passive environment as it relates to the My Lai massacre. The penultimate part consists of a discussion concerning the implications of the My Lai massacre and the last part provides a discussion concerning the legacy of the My Lai massacre. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings concerning these issues are presented in the conclusion.
Part I. Examination of the social and psychological environmental influences for the My Lai massacre
Researchers have shown time and again that when people are subjected to extraordinary circumstances, they can be influenced to behave in ways that would not otherwise be possible. Changing individual attitudes is a challenging enterprise that requires overcoming well-entrenched beliefs and views (Petty, Wegener & Fabrigar, 1997). Although some authorities cite the leadership failures of Lieutenant William L. Calley, Jr. In directing his men in the massacre, other researchers have cited the dearth of effective leadership within the entire Americal division as a contributing cause of the massacre. In addition, there were serious deficiencies in the training that the men of Charlie Company received prior to March 1968 that contributed to major breakdowns in military discipline that resulted in the My Lai massacre (Willbanks, 2014). In reality, this horrendous outcome was facilitated by the tendency of individuals to conform to behaviors that they would otherwise abhor as demonstrated by Asch's experiments in conformity (Rogers, 2003). In this regard, an updated version of Asch's experiment demonstrated that, "Conforming subjects said they felt self-conscious, anxious and even lonely, and feared disapproval. Even some of the independent subjects said they were emotionally affected, but felt it more important to 'stick to their guns' and do as they had been instructed" (Rogers, 2003, p. 353).
Part II. Discussion concerning the development of attitudes in response to a passive environment as it relates to the My Lai massacre
According to Petty and his associates (1997), individual attitudes can be significantly influenced when there are contextual variables and numerous persuasive messages communicated. An important point made by Adler and Gielen (2001) concerns the requirement for processing these communications and contextual variables. In this…
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