1st Edition

The Psychology of Extremism A Motivational Perspective

Edited By Arie W. Kruglanski, Catalina Kopetz, Ewa Szumowska Copyright 2022
    328 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    328 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This ground-breaking book introduces a new model of extremism that emphasizes motivational imbalance among individual needs, offering a unique multidisciplinary exploration of extreme behaviors relating to terrorism, dieting, sports, love, addictions, and money.

    In popular discourse, the term ‘extremism’ has come to mean largely ‘violent extremism’, but this is just one of many different types: extreme sports, extreme diets, political and religious extremisms, extreme self-interest, extreme attitudes, extreme devotion to a cause, addiction to substances, or behavioral addiction (to videogames, shopping, pornography, sex, and work). But do these descriptions have a deeper meaning? Do they reveal a common psychological dynamic? Or are they merely a mode of things about phenomena that have little in common? Bringing together world-leading psychologists from a variety of disciplines, the book uses a brand-new model to examine different expressions of extremism, at different levels of analysis (brain, hormones, and behavior), in order not merely to describe such behaviors but also to explain their occurrence, and the conditions under which they may be likely to emerge.

    Also including suggestions for ways in which extremism could be counteracted, and to what extent it appears to be harmful to individuals and society, this is essential reading for students and academics in psychology and behavioral sciences.

    The Psychology of Extremism

    Arie W. Kruglanski, Ewa Szumowska, and Catalina Kopetz

    Extremism as a Motivational Construct

    Consequences of Motivational Imbalance

    The Present Volume: Motivational Imbalance Across Domains and Levels of Analysis

    Part 1: Motivational Imbalance at Different Levels of Analysis

    Part 2: Motivational Imbalance Across Domains of Human Endeavor

    Part 1: Motivational Imbalance at Different Levels of Analysis

    1. Incentive Salience in Irrational Miswanting and Extreme Motivation

    H. M. Baumgartner, Erin E. Naffziger, David Nguyen, and Kent C. Berridge


    Reward Utilities and 'Wanting'

    Attribution of Incentive Salience

    'Irrational Miswanting' and 'Dangerous Desire'

    Conclusion and Implications in Extreme Aggression

    2. Attitudinal Extremism

    Joseph J. Siev, Richard E. Petty, and Pablo Briñol

    Developing a Model of Attitudinal Extremism

    Candidates for Inclusion in a Model of Attitudinal Extremism

    Properties of Attitudes That Increase Attributions of Extremism

    Processes that Produce Polarized, Confident, and Unusual Attitudes

    Properties of Attitudes that Predict Extreme Behavior

    Threat as a Moderator of Compensation Effects


    3. On Extreme Behavior and Outcomes: The Role of Harmonious and Obsessive Passion

    Robert J. Vallerand and Virginie Paquette

    A Dualistic Model of Passion

    Passion and Extreme Behavior


    4. The Extreme Group

    John M. Levine and Arie W. Kruglanski

    The Present Chapter

    Quest for Significance




    5. Masters of Both: Balancing the Extremes of Innovation Through Tight-Loose Ambidexterity

    Piotr Prokopowicz, Virginia K. Choi, and Michele J. Gelfand

    Exploration and Exploitation: Understanding the Extremes of Innovation

    Cultural Tightness-Looseness

    Exploring Looseness, Exploiting Tightness

    The Goldilocks Principle of Innovation



    6. The Evolution of Extremis

    William von Hippel and Nadia Fox

    How Might Extremism Have Evolved?

    What Function Might Extremism Serve?

    Is Extremism Unique to Humans?

    How Does Morality Attenuate and Exacerbate Extremism?

    Implications and Conclusions

    Part 2: Motivational Imbalance Across Domains of Human Endeavor

    7. The Psychology of Extreme Sports

    Eric Brymer and Pierre Bouchat


    Traditional Perspectives on the Psychology of Extreme Sports

    Beyond the Risk-Taking Narrative

    Positive Psychology Perspectives 

    8. The Psychology of Gree

    Katalin Takacs Haynes

    Introduction to Greed Narratives

    What Is Greed and Why Is It Extreme?

    History of Greed

    Greed in the Social Sciences

    Multilevel Model of Greed as Extremism

    Mitigating the Problem

    9. Moral, Extreme, and Positive: What Are the Key Issues for the Study of the Morally Exceptional

    William Fleeson, Christian Miller, R. Michael Furr, Angela Knobel, and Eranda Jayawickreme

    The Promise of Studying the Morally Exceptional

    Do Morally Exceptional People Exist?

    Theoretical, Philosophical, and Theological Accounts of the Morally Exceptional

    Empirical Findings: Why Are Some People Extremely Moral?

    What Is Not Known

    Three Difficulties for the Study of the Morally Exceptional and Strategies for Addressing Them

    Difficulty 1: What Counts as 'Moral' and What Counts as 'Morally Good'?

    Difficulty 2: What Counts as Exceptional?

    Difficulty 3: What Will Be Added to the Study of Morality by Studying the Morally Exceptional in Particular?



    10. The Social Psychology of Violent Extremism

    Erica Molinario, Katarzyna Jasko, David Webber, and Arie W. Kruglanski


    Perceived Efficacy of Violence

    Feeling Noticed and Agentic

    Ingroup Identification

    Culturally Approved Violence

    Violence as a Clear Response

    Relative Deprivation and Inequality

    The 3N Framework: Need, Narrative, and Networks


    11. Motivational Imbalance in Jihadi Online Recruitment

    Gabriel Weimann


    Online Recruitment

    The Notion of Motivational Imbalance


    Using Motivational Imbalance in Jihadi campaigns



    Arie W. Kruglanski is Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, USA. He has received the National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award, the Donald Campbell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Social Psychology, the University of Maryland Regents Award for Scholarship and Creativity, and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. Kruglanski has published over 400 articles, chapters, and books on motivated social cognition; served on NAS panels on the social and behavioral aspects of terrorism; and co-founded the National Center of Excellence for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism. He was the PI on a MINERVA grant from the Office of Naval Research on the determinants of radicalization and is presently the PI on a MINERVA grant on Syrian refugees’ potential for radicalization.

    Catalina Kopetz is Associate Professor of Psychology at Wayne State University, USA. Her research focuses on the mechanisms that underlie multiple goal pursuit and management of goal conflict and their implications for risk-taking. She has published in prestigious journals spanning social and clinical psychology, prevention sciences, psychopharmacology, and behavioral and brain sciences, as well as journals appealing to a broader audience, such as Perspectives in Psychological Science, Current Directions in Psychological Science, and Psychological Review. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (including NIDA, NCI, and NIAAA).

    Ewa Szumowska, is a researcher at the Social Psychology Unit in the Institute of Psychology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and a member of the Center for Social Cognitive Studies Krakow, Association for Psychological Science, and the European Association of Social Psychology. She is an author and co-author of scientific publications in journals, such as Psychological Review, Psychological Inquiry, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Cognition, and Personality and Individual Differences. She studies motivation, information processing, multiple goal pursuit, and extremism.