The Psychology of Radicalization and Terrorism  book cover
1st Edition

The Psychology of Radicalization and Terrorism

ISBN 9781848724426
Published November 24, 2015 by Routledge
284 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Terrorism and radicalization have a long history, but in recent years their prominence has been a particularly conspicuous and influential feature of the global political landscape. This important book presents an overview of the processes involved in radicalization and terrorism, and introduces a systematic framework which captures the most crucial individual and social factors involved in determining these processes.

The authors begin by considering the possible role of prejudice, economic deprivation, and discrimination, and the cognitive responses and emotions they can trigger. Such responses tend in turn to increase the importance of group membership, and promote intergroup differentiation and polarization, a process which is often accompanied by more pronounced and more extreme religious and ideological beliefs. The book also describes the role of cultural values and social climate in processes of radicalization, as well as the role of personality factors and demographics such as age and marital status.

As for violent terrorist action itself, this final most radical stage is elicited by a number of group factors such as groupthink, isolation, and leadership. Certain cognitive mechanisms – for example, dehumanizing the target and attributing responsibility elsewhere – can also provide excuses for violence. The book explores why some groups turn to violence and others don’t, and it addresses processes of disengagement, deradicalization programs, and other methods used to inhibit the spread of radicalization and terrorism.

The Psychology of Radicalization and Terrorism takes a unique and systematic approach to a vital topic, integrating knowledge from diverse literatures, and using social psychology as a basis for comprehending human behaviour. It will be essential reading for students and researchers from all disciplines seeking a greater understanding of terrorism and violent political conflict in all its forms.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Stereotypes, Prejudice, Economic Deprivation and Discrimination  3. Threats and their Consequences 4. Culture, Social Climate and Catalyst Events 5. Individual Factors: Personality and Demographics 6. Social Identity, Polarization, and Collective Action 7. Social Identity, Ideology and Religion 8. From Extremism to Violence: Small Group Processes, Social Support and Justification 9. Paths to and from Violent Extremism 10. Summary and Conclusions

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Willem Koomen has been affiliated with the Department of Social Psychology of the University of Amsterdam since 1963. His research interests include social cognition, and particularly stereotyping and stigmatization.

Joop van der Pligt was a professor in social psychology at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests pertained to attitudes, perceived risk and affect in relation to decision making. He died in 2015, when this book was almost completed.



"The reality is if we have any hope of challenging radicalization and terrorism we need to get to the heart of the issues that underpin these phenomenon. We have to understand the causes... Willem Koomen and the late Joop Ven Der Plight's recent release The Psychology of Radicalization and Terrorism published by Routledge, attempts just that and with gusto... Throughout their examination the authors provide a great deal of supporting data and introduce countless valuable and interesting studies whic serve to higlight their arguments. The value of this material is further added to by providing a bibliography at the end of each chapter making it ideal for research and reference... [For] any serious mind focused on the subject it is a critical addition to the bookshelf. This is a must have." -Chris Murray, Defence Report Book Watch

"Koomen and Van Der Plight's book definitely provides us with explanations and answers... I became aware just how much the book's content was relevant and explaining this for me, particularly chapters on stereotyping, thereats and social identity.... I would definitely recommend this book to psychologists and related disciplines. I'd also strongly suggest it should be on the bookshelves of policy makers, as well as police and security specialists." -Ged Bailes, Lead Consultant Forensice Clinical Psychologist, Secure & Criminal Justice Services, Norvic Clinic, Norwich, The Psychologist