Same Pyschological Factors Explain Violence Among Muslim and Western Extremists

New research has found that the reasons for extreme behavior by Westerns who attack Muslims and Muslims who engage in terror against the West are the same.

In five studies among three groups and seven cultural contexts, researchers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the United States 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.

For the study, the researchers asked 705 Muslims and 522 non-Muslim Westerners about their attitudes toward the other group.

The study found that the more individuals felt that the other group threatened their culture, traditions, norms, values, and way of life, the higher 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, the researchers reported.

Interestingly, a fear of terror, war, and occupation or a loss of economic and physical well-being made little difference, the researchers pointed out.

In other words, non-Muslim Westerners and Muslims 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 researchers explained.

“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 in Sweden.

The study was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

Source: Uppsala University