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Strength in numbers: A survival strategy that helps explain social bonding and commitment

  • Adam Lankford (a1)

Abstract

We seek strength in numbers as a survival strategy, so it seems unlikely that social bonds would make us want to intentionally die. However, our deep desire to be protected may explain our attraction to exaggerated notions of intentional self-sacrifice – even though research on suicide terrorists, kamikaze pilots, and cult members suggests they were not actually dying for their group.

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Boesch, C. (1991) The effects of leopard predation on grouping patterns in forest chimpanzees. Behaviour 117:220–42.
Dawkins, R. (1976) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press.
Lankford, A. (2013) The myth of martyrdom: What really drives suicide bombers, rampage shooters, and other self-destructive killers. Palgrave Macmillan.
Lankford, A. (2014a) Evidence that suicide terrorists are suicidal: Challenges and empirical predictions. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37:380–93.
Lankford, A. (2015) Is suicide terrorism really the product of an evolved sacrificial tendency? A review of mammalian research and application of evolutionary theory. Comprehensive Psychology 4:18.
Merari, A. (2010) Driven to death: Psychological and social aspects of suicide terrorism. Oxford University Press.
Ohnuki-Tierney, E. (2007) Kamikaze diaries: Reflections of Japanese student soldiers. University of Chicago Press.
Pinker, S. (2012, June 18) The false allure of group selection. Edge. Available at: http://edge.org/conversation/the-false-allure-of-group-selection.

Strength in numbers: A survival strategy that helps explain social bonding and commitment

  • Adam Lankford (a1)

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