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The American Psychologist is the official journal of the American Psychological Association. As such, the journal contains archival documents and articles covering current issues in psychology, the science and practice of psychology, and psychology's cont



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Psychology of terrorism: Introduction to the special issue.

2017-04-06

Despite the extraordinary social and political consequences often associated with terrorist violence, as well as our responses to it, psychological research on terrorist behavior is conspicuously underdeveloped. This special issue of American Psychologist presents a series of articles that showcase new conceptual, theoretical, and empirical advances in our understanding of terrorism. In doing so, it seeks to not merely summarize recent accomplishments, but to highlight the immense value of explicitly psychological research on these issues, far more of which is called for to realize the potential for informing solutions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Understanding political radicalization: The two-pyramids model.

2017-04-06

This article reviews some of the milestones of thinking about political radicalization, as scholars and security officials struggled after 9/11 to discern the precursors of terrorist violence. Recent criticism of the concept of radicalization has been recognized, leading to a 2-pyramids model that responds to the criticism by separating radicalization of opinion from radicalization of action. Security and research implications of the 2-pyramids model are briefly described, ending with a call for more attention to emotional experience in understanding both radicalization of opinion and radicalization of action. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



To the fringe and back: Violent extremism and the psychology of deviance.

2017-04-06

We outline a general psychological theory of extremism and apply it to the special case of violent extremism (VE). Extremism is defined as motivated deviance from general behavioral norms and is assumed to stem from a shift from a balanced satisfaction of basic human needs afforded by moderation to a motivational imbalance wherein a given need dominates the others. Because motivational imbalance is difficult to sustain, only few individuals do, rendering extreme behavior relatively rare, hence deviant. Thus, individual dynamics translate into social patterns wherein majorities of individuals practice moderation, whereas extremism is the province of the few. Both extremism and moderation require the ability to successfully carry out the activities that these demand. Ability is partially determined by the activities’ difficulty, controllable in part by external agents who promote or oppose extremism. Application of this general framework to VE identifies the specific need that animates it and offers broad guidelines for addressing this pernicious phenomenon. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



There and back again: The study of mental disorder and terrorist involvement.

2017-04-06

For the past 40 years, researchers studied the relationship between mental disorder and terrorist involvement. The literature developed in 4 paradigms, each of which differs in terms of their empirical evidence, the specific mental disorders studied, and their conceptualizations of terrorist involvement. These paradigms have not, however, witnessed linear and incremental improvements upon 1 another. Although 1 paradigm has generally tended to dominate a temporal period, many false assumptions and incorrect interpretations of earlier work permeate into today’s discourse. This article provides a history of the study of mental disorders and the terrorist. First, we briefly outline the core fundamental principles of the first 2 paradigms, The article then outlines the core arguments produced by the seminal reviews conducted in Paradigm 3. We highlight how these findings were consistently misinterpreted in subsequent citations. We then highlight recent innovations in the study of terrorism and mental disorder since the various influential literature reviews of 1997–2005. We conclude by outlining how future research in this area may improve in the coming years by broadening our understanding of both terrorist involvement and psychopathology away from simple dichotomous thinking. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Recruitment and selection in violent extremist organizations: Exploring what industrial and organizational psychology might contribute.

2017-04-06

For many terrorist organizations, also known as violent extremist organizations (VEOs), their ability to perpetuate violence is often contingent upon successful recruitment and selection of organizational members. Although academic work on terrorist recruitment and selection has improved in recent years, researchers have generally focused more heavily on aspects of radicalization rather than organization attraction and entry. Moreover, a number of terrorism scholars have lamented the lack of conceptual frameworks with which to interpret and extend findings linked to recruitment and selection, specifically. In light of these difficulties, we propose that considering literature bases outside of terrorism may be useful in extending lines of inquiry and offering alternative ways of thinking about how terrorist organizations operate. Specifically, we draw on Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Human Resource Management, and Organizational Behavior literature bases to offer alternative and extended modes of thought on terrorist recruitment and selection. In doing so, we believe both terrorism and more traditional organizational scholars can make substantive and novel contributions to future investigations of increasingly pressing issues surrounding violent extremism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Toward a psychology of humiliation in asymmetric conflict.

2017-04-06

Humiliation is often cited in attempts to understand the origins of asymmetric conflicts, especially conflicts involving terrorism. This article reviews common usage, expert opinion, and experiences in interpersonal and intergroup conflicts to suggest a construct definition of humiliation as a combination of anger and shame. Following appraisal theory, this definition distinguishes between the situational appraisals associated with humiliation (insult and injury; failure to retaliate) and the emotional experience of humiliation (in which the combination of anger and shame may be more synergism than summation). Research on humiliation has barely begun and focuses on interpersonal relations; a crucial issue is whether interpersonal humiliation is the same experience as the intergroup humiliation salient in accounts of terrorism and terrorists. Also important is the prediction that the targets of terrorist attack will experience humiliation if the terrorists are unknown or unreachable; thus failure to retaliate may humiliate the strong as well as the weak in asymmetric conflict. Better understanding of humiliation may be useful for understanding both terrorist violence and government reactions to this violence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Revenge versus rapport: Interrogation, terrorism, and torture.

2017-04-06

This review begins with the historical context of harsh interrogation methods that have been used repeatedly since the Second World War. This is despite the legal, ethical and moral sanctions against them and the lack of evidence for their efficacy. Revenge-motivated interrogations (Carlsmith & Sood, 2009) regularly occur in high conflict, high uncertainty situations and where there is dehumanization of the enemy. These methods are diametrically opposed to the humanization process required for adopting rapport-based methods–for which there is an increasing corpus of studies evidencing their efficacy. We review this emerging field of study and show how rapport-based methods rely on building alliances and involve a specific set of interpersonal skills on the part of the interrogator. We conclude with 2 key propositions: (a) for psychologists to firmly maintain the Hippocratic Oath of “first do no harm,” irrespective of perceived threat and uncertainty, and (b) for wider recognition of the empirical evidence that rapport-based approaches work and revenge tactics do not. Proposition (a) is directly in line with fundamental ethical principles of practice for anyone in a caring profession. Proposition (b) is based on the requirement for psychology to protect and promote human welfare and to base conclusions on objective evidence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Risk assessment and the prevention of radicalization from nonviolence into terrorism.

2017-04-06

This article considers the challenges associated with completing risk assessments in countering violent extremism. In particular, it is concerned with risk assessment of those who come to the attention of government and nongovernment organizations as being potentially on a trajectory toward terrorism and where there is an obligation to consider the potential future risk that they may pose. Risk assessment in this context is fraught with difficulty, primarily due to the variable nature of terrorism, the low base-rate problem, and the dearth of strong evidence on relevant risk and resilience factors. Statistically, this will lead to poor predictive value. Ethically, it can lead to the labeling of an individual who is not on a trajectory toward violence as being “at risk” of engaging in terrorism and the imposing of unnecessary risk management actions. The article argues that actuarial approaches to risk assessment in this context cannot work. However, it further argues that approaches that help assessors to process and synthesize information in a structured way are of value and are in line with good practice in the broader field of violence risk assessment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Building community resilience to violent extremism through genuine partnerships.

2017-04-06

What is community resilience in relation to violent extremism, and how can we build it? This article explores strategies to harness community assets that may contribute to preventing youth from embracing violent extremism, drawing from models of community resilience as defined in relation to disaster preparedness. Research suggests that social connection is at the heart of resilient communities and any strategy to increase community resilience must both harness and enhance existing social connections, and endeavor to not damage or diminish them. First, the role of social connection within and between communities is explored. Specifically, the ways in which social bonding and social bridging can diminish risk for violence, including violent extremism, is examined. Second, research on the role of social connection between communities and institutions or governing bodies (termed social linking) is described. This research is discussed in terms of how the process of government partnering with community members can both provide systems for early intervention for violent extremism, as well as strengthen bonding and bridging social networks and in this way contribute broadly to building community resilience. Finally, community-based participatory research, a model of community engagement and partnership in research, is presented as a road map for building true partnerships and community engagement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)