An Analysis of the Existential Underpinnings of the Cycle of Terrorist and Counterterrorist Violence and Pathways to Peaceful Resolutions
International Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 2, pp. 267-291, 2009
14 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2011
Date Written: December 31, 2009
The current article provides a terror management theory perspective of the psychological factors that lead groups and individuals to endorse, promote, and engage in violent actions against innocent individuals. This perspective provides an empirically-based, theoretically-driven approach to understanding the ways in which ideological, nationalistic, and religious beliefs interact with historical events and concrete complaints to lead people to accept, condone, or participate in terrorist activities. Research provides convergent evidence suggesting that many of the same psychological factors are at work in the minds of people on both sides of conflicts. This suggests that the factors driving people toward terrorism are the same as those which drive people toward extreme counterterrorism measures that often create substantial collateral damage which commonly helps terrorists grow broader support for their causes and increase recruitment. After describing this cycle of violence, research is presented that provides several pathways through which intergroup peace may be attained.
Keywords: terrorism, extremism, ideology, terror management, existential motivation, war, violence, peace, conflict
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