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Paper Examines Ethical Pressures Soldiers Face

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U.S. Army
Monday, October 26, 2020

The winning essay of the inaugural Lt. Gen. Theodore G. Stroup Jr. Achievement Award highlights the ethical pressures soldiers face on the battlefield.

In “Soldiers and the Ethical Life,” author Prescott Farris dives into the psychology behind decision-making and discusses key factors that can influence soldiers’ behavior, including peer pressure and groupthink.

Peer pressure and groupthink can remove a sense of personal responsibility, Farris writes, while “bracketed morality”—or a sense of being absolved of ethics when under pressure by others—can lead to a “deadly combination.” 

“Mindfulness and remaining emotionally and mentally present in a situation can play an important role in how people behave,” he says. According to Farris, soldiers should also be taught how to hold comrades to ethical standards through “constructive peer pressure.”

Named in honor of Stroup, AUSA’s former vice president of education, the award program recognizes junior ROTC cadets for their achievements.

This year, AUSA recognized two students for the first time. As the winner, Farris, who was raised in an Army and is now attending American University, will receive a $1,000 award. 

Fernando Avila will receive a $500 award.

Read Farris’ full essay here.