#49 – The Psychology of Terrorism

Clark McCauley, Ph.D. is Prof of Psychology at Bryn Mawr College. He also has ties to my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Director of the Soloman Ash Center for Ethnopolitical Conflict. In addition, he is co-director of the START consortium. START stands for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism. And, I believe this group recently was awarded a $12 million grant by the Department of Homeland Security to study terrorism. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. His research interests include stereotypes and the psychology of group identification, group dynamics and intergroup conflict, and the psychological foundations of ethnic conflict and genocide. With colleagues he edited The Psychology of Ethnic and Cultural Conflict (2004), and with Dan Chirot he is author of Why not kill them all? The origins of genocide (Princeton University Press, in press). He is a consultant and reviewer for the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation for research on dominance, aggression and violence, a member of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Reaction to Terrorism, and Chair of the Subcommittee on Ethnopolitical Violence of the Policy Committee of the International Association of Applied Psychology. Recommended reading (with chapters by Dr. McCauley) includes Collateral Damage: The Psychological Effects of America’s War on Terrorism edited by Kimmel and Stout, as well as The Psychology of Terrorism by Stout. We close with a podsafe tune advocating for peace. It’s called “Spirit of Lennon – Peace” by Brad Stanfield. To me it’s very reminiscent of John Lennon’s, “Give Peace A Chance.”

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One Comment

  1. John Knight
    Posted January 17, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I hope this doesn’t sound insulting or inflammatory, but from a foreigner’s perspective, it’s always been very scary watching US reactions to terrorism from both civilians and state. The same old dogmatic approaches that instill ideas such as the old “us against them” and both sides lying about the other (for instance in the West, someone in the news media will tell you that terrorists “hate our freedom” and it’s why they’re attacking, as opposed to something realistic like foreign occupation) only serves to add fuel to the fire.

    As an outsider, it’s very encouraging to hear Americans think for themselves and question what the authorities are telling them, and try to look at the problem neutrally.

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