Understanding terrorist psychology

  • Borum R
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Abstract

Behavioural scientists have shown a longstanding interest in understanding and describing the psychology of individuals who become involved in terrorism (Borum, 2004; Davis & Cragin, 2009; Horgan, 2005; Victoroff & Kruglanski, 2009). Understanding the causes, motivations and determinants of terrorist behaviour poses an enormous challenge, but pursuing this knowledge is vital to countering violent extremism's threat to global security. This chapter provides an overview of the major findings in this area and an account of our current understanding, introducing several concepts addressed in detail in subsequent chapters. It moves away from single-factor explanations and finger pointing at ―root causes,‖ and aims toward a more diverse and dynamic view based on pathways into and through terrorist engagement and on how terrorist groups form, function, and fail.

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