Socio-Psychological Profile of Militant Extremists
Final performance rept. 1 Mar 2006-31 Aug 2008
OREGON UNIV EUGENE RESEARCH SERVICES AND ADMINISTRATION
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Investigations sought to define the psychological profile that characterizes militant extremists. In one study, extremist groups were selected to overtly represent a very diverse range of continents, cultures, and political and religious orientations. From the groups statements, from both print and online sources, 16 themes were identified, interpreted as part of an overarching narrative, and represented in a measure of a fanatical thinking-pattern. Data indicated that typically participants failed to strongly disassociate themselves from the sentiments found in the fanatical items, undercutting the notion that militant extremists have bizarre ideation. In another study, statements available online from contemporary terrorist groups were analyzed linguistically. Key words there used to make survey items, data on which yielded dimensions involving justification and advocacy of violence, violence in the name of God, and blaming Western nations for the world problems. In a follow-up validity study, militant-extremist-thinking measures were administered alongside measures of other relevant constructs to prime samples in the U.S. Relevant data from eight other countries was also obtained and compared. Preliminary results from the validity study moderately link militant-extremist thinking with dogmatism, tradition-oriented religiousness, and some blend of alienation and eccentric experience, although militant-extremist thinking represents a separate, viable new construct.
- Unconventional Warfare