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Extremism and the Psychology of Uncertainty

ISBN: 978-1-4443-3128-8
328 pages
December 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Extremism and the Psychology of Uncertainty (1444331280) cover image
Extremism and the Psychology of Uncertainty showcases cutting-edge scientific research on the extent to which uncertainty may lead to extremism. Contributions come from leading international scholars who focus on a wide variety of forms, facets and manifestations of extremist behavior.
  • Systematically integrates and explores the growing diversity of social psychological perspectives on the uncertainty extremism relationship
  • Showcases contemporary cutting edge scientific research from leading international scholars
  • Offers a broad perspective on extremism and focuses on a wide variety of different forms, facets and manifestations
  • Accessible to social and behavioral scientists, policy makers and those with a genuine interest in understanding the psychology of extremism
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Notes on Contributors vii

Preface: From Uncertainty to Extremism xv
Michael A. Hogg and Danielle L. Blaylock

Part I: Theories and Concepts 1

1 The Need for Certainty as a Psychological Nexus for Individuals and Society 3
Arie W. Kruglanski and Edward Orehek

2 Self-Uncertainty, Social Identity, and the Solace of Extremism 19
Michael A. Hogg

3 Extremism Is Normal: The Roles of Deviance and Uncertainty in Shaping Groups and Society 36
Dominic Abrams

4 The Psychology of the Absurd: How Existentialists Addressed (and Succumbed to) Extremist Beliefs 55
Travis Proulx

5 Radical Worldview Defense in Reaction to Personal Uncertainty 71
Kees van den Bos and Annemarie Loseman

6 The Uncertainty-Threat Model of Political Conservatism 90
John T. Jost and Jaime L. Napier

Part II: Individuals and Groups 113

7 Dying to Be Popular: A Purposive Explanation of Adolescent Willingness to Endure Harm 115
Jason T. Siegel, William D. Crano, Eusebio M. Alvaro, Andrew Lac, David Rast, and Vanessa Kettering

8 The Extremism of Everyday Life: Fetishism as a Defense against Existential Uncertainty 131
Mark J. Landau, Zachary K. Rothschild, and Daniel Sullivan

9 Religious Zeal after Goal Frustration 147
Ian McGregor, Kyle A. Nash, and Mike Prentice

10 Dehumanization, Demonization, and Morality Shifting: Paths to Moral Certainty in Extremist Violence 165
Roger Giner-Sorolla, Bernhard Leidner, and Emanuele Castano

11 Light from Dark: Uncertainty and Extreme Positive Acts Toward the "Other" 183
Todd L. Pittinsky

Part III: Groups and Society 195

12 Uncertainty, Insecurity, and Ideological Defense of the Status Quo: The Extremitizing Role of Political Expertise 197
Christopher M. Federico and Grace M. Deason

13 Authoritarianism, Need for Closure, and Conditions of Threat 212
Jennifer L. Merolla, Jennifer M. Ramos, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister

14 Constructing Extremism: Uncertainty Provocation and Reduction by Extremist Leaders 228
Viviane Seyranian

15 Collective Uncertainty and Extremism: A Further Discussion on the Collective Roots of Subjective Experience 246
Fathali M. Moghaddam and Karen Love

16 Uncertainty, and the Roots and Prevention of Genocide and Terrorism 263
Ervin Staub

Index 281

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Danielle Blaylock is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Queen's University, Belfast, and the University of St. Andrew's. She is the Managing Editor of the Encyclopaedia of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, edited by John Levine and Michael Hogg; and the Encyclopaedia of Identity, edited by Ronald Jackson II.

Michael Hogg is Professor of Social Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and Foundation Editor of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. His books include Leadership and Power (2005) with van Knippenberg, The Social Psychology of Inclusion and Exclusion (2005) with Abrams and Marques, the Encyclopaedia of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations (2010) with Levine.

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Why do people join extremist groups and engage in terrorist acts? What are the psychological consequences of rising social, political and economic uncertainty around the world? This excellent volume by Hogg and Blaylock addresses these and related questions in a timely collection of chapters written by leading scholars. It is a must read for social scientists and students interested in the psychology of uncertainty and terrorism.
-Brenda Major, University of California Santa Barbara

The editors have assembled a distinguished group of scholars who, in an impressive collection of empirically-based chapters, illuminate the psychology of extremism. The central theme that extremism can be rooted in many normal social psychological processes is provocative, with significant scholarly and practical implications. This work offers valuable insights, complementing analyses from other disciplines, into a timely international issue.
—-John F. Dovidio, Yale University

A fascinating state-of-the-art overview on the relation between extremism and uncertainty by a top-of-art set of scholars! This is a rich collection of coherent yet at the same time diverging perspectives.
—-Bertjan Doosje , University of Amsterdam

This theoretically diverse collection illustrates lucidly how uncertainty may give rise to extremism in many forms, from self-destructive acts of adolescents, through political behavior, to heightened moral affirmation and acts of terrorism. A superb volume.
—-Miles Hewstone, Professor of Social Psychology, University of Oxford, UK

Since September 11 a generation of researchers has been playing catch-up in trying to understand the psychology of extremism. This volume represents a huge step forward in that process.
—-Matthew Hornsey, University of Queensland

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