Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Vol. 1, pp. 12-39, 2009
29 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011
Date Written: February 17, 2011
The present article uses terror management theory (TMT) to explore the psychological, social and cultural forces that lead diverse groups and individuals to endorse, promote and enact violence against innocent individuals. From this perspective, it is the psychological function of religious, ideological, national or ethnic ties that is crucial for understanding how they can lead to hatred and violence. TMT provides an empirically based theoretically driven explanation of how ideological, nationalistic and religious values combine with historical events and concrete grievances to make terrorist violence appealing to those facing individual or group suffering. Research is presented which suggests that many of the same psychological forces that lead terrorists to their violent actions also lead to counter-terrorist policies that create massive collateral damage. This collateral damage appears to further escalate the cycle of violence and may aid the targets of those attacks in recruiting people for the terrorist cause. After examining the issues that inspire such violence, research is presented that suggests possible avenues to decrease support for actions that prolong inter-group conflicts.
Keywords: terrorism, terror management, violence, war, group conflict, military intervention, humiliation, death
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Pyszczynski, Tom and Motyl, Matt and Abdollahi, Abdolhossein, Righteous Violence: Killing for God, Country, Freedom and Justice (February 17, 2011). Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Vol. 1, pp. 12-39, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1763509