Chapter

Suicide Attack Martyrdoms

Adolf Tobeña

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.003.0143
Suicide Attack Martyrdoms

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Suicidal attacks are a warfare tactic rooted in lethal altruism, a highly damaging drift away from people’s more generous tendencies. Martyrs who commit these acts are extreme altruists by definition: They offer their lives as a supreme investment for others’ interests. Individual differences in altruism have been measured using scales and economic games that have led to a growing understanding of their genetic and neurohormonal basis. Analyzing that in relation to suicide martyrdom leads to a question: Are there pockets of individuals among all populations who are willing to make high-cost investments of trust/sacrifice in nonkin others, particularly at war? Disentangling the neurocognitive attributes of altruism and its relationship to other traits mediating martyrdom proneness is a vital task to understand the genesis of suicidal attacks. A temperamental workspace for warriors encompassing the trait dimensions of dominance–submission, Machiavellianism–gullibility, and selfishness–altruism is outlined to frame the main clusters mediating violent martyrdom.

Keywords: altruism; Machiavellianism; martyrdom; suicide attacks; temperament; terrorism

Chapter.  8371 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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