In the Immediate Wake of Hoffman’s Independent Review: Psychologist and General Public Perceptions
American Psychologist, Jul 22, 2019.
Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 1 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 22, 2019
In 2015, the American Psychological Association (APA) commissioned an independent review (IR) to examine APA’s potential involvement with “enhanced interrogation” procedures following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The IR concluded that certain APA officials acted together with the Department of Defense to “align APA and curry favor with” the Department of Defense to allow the involvement of psychologists in such enhanced interrogations (Hoffman et al., 2015, p. 9). Discussion following the IR’s release underscored differences in the views of psychologists regarding the IR’s conclusions. Despite extensive discussion, there is only anecdotal evidence regarding the views of psychologists on many of the questions investigated in the IR. This study examined the opinions of psychologists and the public shortly after the IR’s release regarding the roles of psychologists in national security interrogations and other non-treatment-focused contexts. This survey of psychologists (N = 1,146) engaged in treatment-focused and non-treatment-focused activities, and of the general public (N = 522), sheds light on the broader perceptions of the IR’s conclusions, and is relevant in considering future directions for the profession. Results suggest that the public is more accepting of psychologists’ involvement in national security settings, including involvement in many of the activities highlighted as problematic in the IR, than are psychologists. The perceptions of treatment-focused and non-treatment-focused psychologists regarding the appropriate roles of psychologists in national security settings did not differ significantly. These empirical data should help inform the ongoing discussion in this area. None of the authors is associated with an unequivocal position on the IR or the issues addressed as part of it. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords: Enhanced interrogations, American Psychological Association, National security,
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