Individual Factors Leading to the Support of Terrorism

Posted May 11th, 2010 at 3:12 pm.

Jessica Engelman

Mentor: Professor Clark McCauley

From New York to London and Madrid, large-scale terrorist attacks have caused the Western world to reexamine the relationship it has with both the Islamic countries and with Muslims living in Western countries. While most Muslims condemn terrorist attacks, such as 9/11, 7/7, 3/11, and the frequent terrorist attacks and bombings in Mid-Eastern countries, a few individuals come to support terrorism, some even becoming terrorists themselves. What factors determine whether one becomes a supporter or opponent of terrorism?

For my research, I will be looking at five surveys of Muslims living in the United Kingdom, each taken at different dates between 2004 and 2006. I will be analyzing opinions and attitudes about foreign policy in Iraq and the condition of Muslims living in the UK, focusing on how these change over time and how major world events influence responses. Then, I will reevaluate current theories about how individuals come to support terrorism in light of these results, particularly issues of hostility and discrimination faced because of one’s religion, as well as the impact of age and gender.

Additionally, I will be researching the topic of humiliation and how it influences support for terrorism. While many people, from psychologists to newscasters and political analysts, have cited humiliation of Islamic or Mid-Eastern groups and countries as a primary factor in supporting terrorism, humiliation is an under-researched area of social psychology. Thus, I will be conducting an extensive literature review on humiliation research, particularly focusing on what little empirical data exists on humiliation and how it relates to terrorism.

Filed under: 2007,Engelman, Jessica,McCauley, Dr. Clark by Ann Dixon

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