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The Subjective Reality of the Terrorist: Ideological and Psychological Factors in Terrorism

  • Martha Srenshaw

Abstract

The actions of terrorist organisations are based on a subjective interpretation of the world rather than objective reality.1 Perceptions of the political and social environment are filtered through beliefs and attitudes that reflect experiences and memories. The psychological and ideological factors that constitute the terrorist’s world-view are only part of a complex web of determinants of terrorist behaviour, one of which is surely a strategic conception of means and ends. It is clearly mistaken, however, to assume that terrorists act in terms of a consistent rationality based on accurate representations of reality. In fact one of the aims of terrorist organisations is to convince sceptical audiences to see the world in their terms. An important aspect of the struggle between governments and terrorists concerns the definition of the conflict. Each side wishes to interpret the issues in terms of its own values.

Keywords

Belief System Political Violence Innocent Victim Cultural Narrative Subjective Reality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Robert O. Slater and Michael Stohl 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha Srenshaw

There are no affiliations available

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