Keywords: terrorism, war, ethnocentrism, intergroup relations, political attitudes.
Everyday mass media report about war against terrorism, terrorist acts and preventive war. By the way, what characterize an action as terrorist? As many authors underline, there is disagreement on a common definition of terrorism. From a psychosocial perspective, it's important to underline that an ambiguous notion of terrorism can legitimate the ingroup/outgroup differentiation that affects intergroup relations. The aim of this research is to study the influence of different variables on the interpretation of some violent actions as war or terrorism acts. Results on 325 university students sample confirm that the basic criterion for the evaluation of the actions is founded on the distinction between military or civilian targets ("target" effect). However, some subjects use also a criterion based on the ethnic-cultural identity of the aggressor ("actor" effect).