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Fully Committed: Suicide Bombers' Motivation and the Quest for Personal Significance

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A motivational analysis of suicidal terrorism is outlined, anchored in the notion of significance quest. It is suggested that heterogeneous factors identified as personal causes of suicidal terrorism (e.g. trauma, humiliation, social exclusion), the various ideological reasons assumed to justify it (e.g. liberation from foreign occupation, defense of one's nation or religion), and the social pressures brought upon candidates for suicidal terrorism may be profitably subsumed within an integrative framework that explains diverse instances of suicidal terrorism as attempts at significance restoration, significance gain, and prevention of significance loss. Research and policy implications of the present analysis are considered.
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Keywords: Ideology; Significance; Suicide terrorism; Terrorist motivation; Trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Maryland, College Park

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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