The same psychological mechanism explains violence among Muslim and Western extremists

January 31, 2018

Why do some Westerners attack Muslim minorities and asylum seekers and why do some Muslims support and engage in terror against the West? New research suggests that the reasons for such extreme behaviour might be the same in both groups. The results have now been published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

In five studies among three groups and seven cultural contexts, researchers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the US show that the same psychological processes explain mutual outgroup hostility between non-Muslim Westerners, Muslim minorities living in the West, and Muslims living in the Middle East.

The researchers asked a total of 705 Muslims and 522 non-Muslim Westerners about their attitudes toward the other group. This is the first comparative study that explores whether similar threat perceptions predict outgroup hostility and violence across Muslims living in Europe and the Middle East as well as among non-Muslims in Europe and in the US.

Results showed that the more individuals in each group felt that the other group threatened their culture, traditions, norms, values and way of life, the higher were their intentions to attack and show hostility towards them. The findings held regardless of whether the respondents were Westerners living in the US or Scandinavia or whether they were Muslims living in Europe or the Middle East (e.g., Turkey and Afghanistan).

Interestingly, a fear of terror, war and occupation or a loss of economic and physical well-being made little difference. In other words, non-Muslim Westerners and Muslims alike do not seem to show hostility towards each other because they perceive their physical safety to be threatened, but because they perceive their cultures, values, norms, morals, philosophy and identity as incompatible. The results of the research can explain why Westerners join anti-Muslim organisations such as Pegida and sometimes are even personally willing to violently persecute Muslims. At the same time, it also sheds light on why some Muslims support London bombings and the 9/11 attacks, and personally engage in terror against the West or even go abroad to fight for other Muslims.

"An imagined or perceived 'Clash of Cultures' may indeed underlie violence and hostility between some Muslims and non-Muslims," says Dr. Milan Obaidi, researcher at the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University.

Uppsala University

Related Violence Articles from Brightsurf:

Combined intimate partner violence that includes sexual violence is common & more damaging
Women who experience sexual violence combined with other forms of intimate partner violence suffer greater damage to their health and are much more likely to attempt suicide, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care published in the International Journal of Epidemiology today [12 November 2020].

As farming developed, so did cooperation -- and violence
The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

The front line of environmental violence
Environmental defenders on the front line of natural resource conflict are being killed at an alarming rate, according to a University of Queensland study.

What can trigger violence in postcolonial Africa?
Why do civil wars and coups d'├ętat occur more frequently in some sub-Saharan African countries than others.

Another victim of violence: Trust in those who mean no harm
Exposure to violence does not change the ability to learn who is likely to do harm, but it does damage the ability to place trust in 'good people,' psychologists at Yale and University of Oxford report April 26 in the journal Nature Communications

Victims of gun violence tell their stories: Everyday violence, 'feelings of hopelessness'
Invited to share their personal stories, victims of urban gun violence describe living with violence as a 'common everyday experience' and feeling abandoned by police and other societal institutions, reports a study in the November/December Journal of Trauma Nursing, official publication of the Society of Trauma Nurses.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Teen dating violence is down, but boys still report more violence than girls
When it comes to teen dating violence, boys are more likely to report being the victim of violence -- being hit, slapped, or pushed--than girls.

Preventing murder by addressing domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence are at a high risk to be murdered -- or a victim of attempted murder -- according to a Cuyahoga County task force of criminal-justice professionals, victim advocates and researchers working to prevent domestic violence and homicides.

'Love displaces violence'
Art historian Eva-Bettina Krems on persistent motifs of peace in art from antiquity to the present day -- dove, rainbow or victory of love: artists draw on recurring motifs.

Read More: Violence News and Violence Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to