Campus News in Brief

New study seeks to redefine what constitutes torture

The definition of torture is often a difficult concept to grasp, but it usually focuses on the level of pain inflicted.

However, according to recent research, this definition of torture can be subjective and biased. Researchers Loran Nordgren, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; George Loewenstein, of Carnegie Mellon University; and Mary-Hunter Morris McDonnell, of Harvard University Law School, conducted four studies on how subjects respond to degrees of pain.

In these studies, participants had to make two different types of judgments about interrogation tactics: the degree of pain from the tactic and whether the tactic should be considered torture and prohibited.

Within all four studies, some of the subjects had to make the judgments without experiencing the effects of the interrogation tactic while other subjects had to make the same judgment while experiencing a mild version of the pain.

The experiment’s results indicated that the participants’ definition of torture was only affected by their immediate state of pain.

“While people may feel they can judge a tactic because they have experienced the pain it produces at some point in the past, this research suggests that people can only empathize with pain when they are directly experiencing it,” said Loewenstein in a university press release.

School of Music hosts free guitar concert and class

Iranian-American classical guitarist Lily Afshar will perform a free public concert at 8 p.m. in the Kresge Theatre in the College of Fine Arts building this Thursday. Besides the concert, Afshar will host a master class at 7 p.m. this Wednesday in the Kresge Theatre.

Afshar, born in Tehran, Iran, learned to play the guitar at age 10 and graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s of music in guitar performance from the Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory of Music.

Later, she attended Florida State University and became the first woman in the world to earn a doctorate of music in guitar performance. Today, she is the head of the University of Memphis guitar program and teaches guitar master classes, in addition to her touring.

As a musician, she has the ability to develop unusual guitar sounds through the use of quarter tones and fretlets.

Afshar’s honors include the 2000 Orville H. Gibson Award for Best Female Classical Guitarist, the Grand Prize in the Aspen Music Festival Guitar Competition, the Top Prize in the Guitar Foundation of America Competition, and the Premier Guitarist Award from the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, among others.