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Cognitive simplicity and self-deception are crucial in martyrdom and suicide terrorism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 August 2014

Bernhard Fink
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Personality Psychology and Assessment, and Courant Research Centre Evolution of Social Behavior, University of Göttingen, Kellnerweg 6, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany. bernhard.fink@ieee.org www.evolutionary-psychology.de
Robert Trivers
Affiliation:
Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. trivers@rci.rutgers.edu www.roberttrivers.com

Abstract

Suicide attacks and terrorism are characterized by cognitive simplicity, which is related to self-deception. In justifying violence in pursuit of ideologically and/or politically driven commitment, people with high religious commitment may be particularly prone to mechanisms of self-deception. Related megalomania and glorious self-perception are typical of self-deception, and are thus crucial in the emergence and expression of (suicide) terrorism.

Type
Open Peer Commentary
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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References

Hamilton, W. D. (1964) The genetical evolution of social behavior, I and II. Journal of Theoretical Biology 7:1–16; 1752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Lankford, A. (2013c) The myth of martyrdom: What really drives suicide bombers, rampage shooter, and other self-destructive killers. Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
Triandis, H. C. (2009) Fooling ourselves: Self-deception in politics, religion and terrorism. Praeger.Google Scholar
Trivers, R. (2011) Deceit and self-deception: Fooling yourself the better to fool others. Allen Lane.Google Scholar
von Hippel, W. & Trivers, R. (2011) The evolution and psychology of self-deception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34(1):156.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

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