Confident Terrorists: How Self-efficacy Can Contribute to Violent Extremism

The field of terrorism studies as a whole and radicalization studies in particular has made significant progress in the last two decades. Despite the large body of theoretical and empirical research, certain phenomena have yet to be understood in their entirety. One of these relates to the question of why certain people take violent action after they have been radicalized, while others do not. A multitude of radicalization theories exist, but most focus on the different stages of radicalization, root causes, or push-and-pull factors making individuals more susceptible to extremist worldviews. The ultimate step from cognitive to violent radicalization — that is from holding a certain worldview to engaging in violence justified by this worldview — is not fully understood yet.

One concept of potentially explanatory value for the choice to engage in violent extremism is Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura’s work on self-efficacy. Bandura developed a grand social-psychological theory, Social Cognitive Theory, seeking to explain the determinants and mechanisms of human behavior.

Read full article written by Linda Schlegel.

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