Terrorism as Altruism: An Evolutionary Model For Understanding Terrorist Psychology

Book chapter


O'Gorman, Rick and Silke, A. 2015. Terrorism as Altruism: An Evolutionary Model For Understanding Terrorist Psychology. in: Taylor, Max, Roach, Jason and Pease, Ken (ed.) Evolutionary Psychology and Terrorism Abingdon, Oxon Routledge. pp. 149-163
AuthorsO'Gorman, Rick and Silke, A.
EditorsTaylor, Max, Roach, Jason and Pease, Ken
Abstract

Terrorists are often portrayed as the lowest form of combatant, labelled as murderers, criminals and madmen. Yet, this view is counter-balanced by the fact that those who engage in terrorism do so as a small minority at great risk to themselves, and occasionally even intentionally sacrificing themselves for their war or cause. A suicide-bomber is viewed as psychotic; a regular soldier who leads his troops forward to certain death is heroic. Are these two types of combatant really so different? This chapter presents a fresh model for understanding terrorism and terrorists within the context of altruism. The chapter draws on evolutionary approaches to understanding altruism in general in human behaviour, outlining the dynamics that allow altruism to function and flourish. Specific insights and models are then applied to terrorism, providing fresh insight into our understanding of the individual psychology of terrorists as well as the contexts in which terrorist groups can emerge.

Keywordsaltruism; terrorism; terrorist; evolutionary psychology
Book titleEvolutionary Psychology and Terrorism
Page range149-163
Year2015
PublisherRoutledge
Publication dates
Print28 Aug 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited25 Apr 2017
Place of publicationAbingdon, Oxon
ISBN9781138774582
Web address (URL)https://www.routledge.com/Evolutionary-Psychology-and-Terrorism/Taylor-Roach-Pease/p/book/9781138774582
Accepted author manuscript
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