Arie W. Kruglanski, Shira Fishman

Psychological underpinnings of terrorism: the individual, the group and the organization

  • Abstract

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Keywords: terrorism, motivation, significance, goals, organisations

This paper explores psychological factors involved in terrorism and counterterrorism on individual, group and organizational levels of analysis. On the individual level, we describe attempts to understand terrorist behavior as a form of psychopathology, and/or as reflecting a unique constellation of personality traits. We also consider whether at the individual level there exists a uniform motivational basis for participating in terrorism. On the group level of analysis, we address the process of shared reality construction, social influence involved in recruitment of new members to terrorist organization, their indoctrination into terrorist ideology, and the use of language in creating terrorism warranting norms. On the organizational level we consider issues of training, logistics and cost effectiveness as they apply to the decisions to launch terrorist activities, or abstain from their deployment. We conclude by considering the implications for our analysis for possible ways and means for countering terrorism.

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