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*For Immediate Press Release*

Faculty Speak at National Conference
-released by OPSU Campus Communications 05-09-05

On Friday, April 8, 2005, three members of the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Behavioral and Social Sciences Department held a cross-disciplinary panel discussion. Dr. Ron Becker, OPSU Assistant Professor of Political Science, chaired the discussion entitled "Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Human Aggression, Violence, and War" at the National Social Science Association’s annual National Technology and Social Science Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.Becker’s presentation, "Iraq and the Bush Doctrine of Pre-emptive Self-defense," concentrated on United States policy in Iraq, addressing the question of whether a pre-emptive first strike on Iraq was a legitimate act of self-defense or a policy in violation of international law. His presentation was based on the research and perspectives of a wide variety of legal and political experts, and examined the legal and political implications of this new twist to American foreign policy.OPSU Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. James Benjamin’s presentation, "Human Aggression and Violence: Understanding Torture From a Psychological Perspective," drew upon theory and research on destructive obedience and right-wing authoritarianism in order to explain the psychological mechanisms behind the illegal torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantànamo Bay. Benjamin showed how a variety of situational factors such as organizational norms, deindividuation, diffusion of responsibility and conformity could create the psychological conditions necessary to foster the widespread use of torture. He also reviewed some research on right-wing authoritarianism, including some of his and his students’ on-going research, demonstrating how highly authoritarian individuals would be especially influenced by these same social conditions.Anthropology Instructor Tom Ellzey’s presentation, "Aggression in Man: Nature or Culture?," focused on the cultural influences on human aggression. Ellzey began by defining culture and then addressed the research on cultural variations in aggressiveness and warfare.

The three panelists had the opportunity to engage in a lively discussion with members of the audience during the question-and-answer period following their presentations. Overall, the presentations were well-received by all in attendance. The Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences and OPSU were well-represented by the three panelists, and there are plans to return to Las Vegas next year to present faculty and student research on aggression.


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