John Horgan
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Psychology of Terrorism: Introduction to the Special Issue

American Psychologist

Abstract

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. Though occasionally hampered by its own identity crisis, psychology first and foremost remains the scientific study of behavior. Irrespective of how one views terrorism, and at whatever level of analysis (e.g., individual, group, organizational, subnational), terrorism is behavior, and thus rests firmly in the sights of psychology.