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NCJ Number: 159650 Find in a Library
Title: Psychological Causes of Oppositional Political Terrorism: Toward an Integration of Findings
Journal: International Journal of Group Tensions  Volume:24  Issue:2  Dated:(1994)  Pages:157-185
Author(s): J I Ross
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 29
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Research findings concerning the psychological causes of terrorism are integrated to establish a conceptual framework on this topic.
Abstract: Previous research on this topic has been criticized with respect to the relevance of the causes suggested, the assumption that terrorism differs from other types of violence or criminality, the utility of psychological explanations of terrorism, and other factors. Nevertheless, psychology has different approaches, areas of research, and theories that offer some insight into the causes of terrorism. The seven theories most prominent in the literature on terrorism are the psychoanalytical, learning, frustration-aggression, narcissism-aggression, trait, developmental, and motivational/rational choice approaches. None is sufficient by itself to explain the psychological causes of terrorism. Alternatively, an integration of these approaches may produce a better explanation. This integration suggests that early childhood and adolescent experiences will condition individuals to develop personality traits predisposing them to engage in terrorism. Psychoanalytic, frustration-aggression, or narcissism- aggression theories can explain the development of these traits and how they motivate individuals to commit terrorism alone or join groups. In the group, members are exposed to learning experiences and adopt roles that mold their behavior. These processes are connected to audiences, victims, other terrorists, and government organizations. Ultimately, the final decision to use terrorism is a rational choice. Notes and 95 references
Main Term(s): Terrorism/Mass Violence
Index Term(s): Psychological theories; Terrorism causes
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