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Righteous Violence: Killing for God, Country, Freedom and Justice

Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Vol. 1, pp. 12-39, 2009

29 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011  

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

Abdolhossein Abdollahi

University of Limerick

Date Written: February 17, 2011

Abstract

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

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

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs ( email )

1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80918-7150
United States

Matt Motyl (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1007 W. Harrison St. (m/c 285)
Psychology Department
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1102 Behavioral Science Building (BSB)
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

Abdolhossein Abdollahi

University of Limerick ( email )

Castletroy, Co
Limerick
Ireland

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