Risk Sensitivity and Terrorism
One enduring question about terrorism is why individuals choose to join terrorist groups. Past studies have shown that terrorists are not always poor, and they can in fact come from more privileged groups in society. Risk sensitivity and prospect theory are approaches that can help explain some of the anomalies. They suggest that two types of group are likely to supply members for terrorist organizations in disproportionate numbers. One group consists of those who face a loss of status or position due to ongoing changes in society. A second group consists of those who have an opportunity to gain a major advance in status or position. Both groups are thus more likely or more willing to take risks such as joining dissident terrorists – either to maintain their position or to improve it. An analysis of the situation of Palestinian nationalists, nationalists in Northern Ireland and the Tamils in Sri Lanka provides support for the idea that sensitivity to risk can be an important factor in explaining the willingness of individuals to join terrorist groups.
kuznar, lutz, terrorism
Anthropology | Political Science
Lawrence A. Kuznar and James M. Lutz (2007).
Risk Sensitivity and Terrorism. Political Studies.55 (2), 341-361.