Attitudes, Values, and Ascription of Responsibility: The Calley Case1


  • 1

    Financial support for this study was received from the Rutgers University College Psychology Research Fund. Data were collected by Patricia Fillingham, Susan Ulrich, and Robert M. Swab, whose assistance we gratefully acknowledge.

Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver 8, British Columbia.


Twenty-nine peace demonstrators (PD), 21 Army Reserve officers (AO), and 40 individuals in the waiting rooms (WR) of an airport and bus terminal in the New York City area differed widely on a variety of measures related to violence, war crimes, and the Calley case. PDs were the highest and AOs the lowest on measures of the general value of human life, the approval of violence to effect societal change, and conceptual complexity; the reverse was true for approval of violence to ensure social stability. There was relatively high disapproval of Lt. Calley's actions, especially among AOs, and a general rejection of “orders” as defense by people accused of atrocities. For the dimension of responsibility ascription-rejection (based on whether or not Ss were willing to name any specific individual as deserving punishment in cases of war crimes, any specific nation as the perpetrator of the worst war crimes, and to ascribe responsibility to Calley for his own actions), the percentage of RA subjects was 31.3 in the PD group, 56.3 in the WR, and 84.6 in the AO.