Terrorism more common in cultures with rigid norms


Cultures with higher terrorism rates also tend to promote more rigid thinking, says a new article published in the Journal of Social Issues.

The article, by researchers from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, found higher terrorism rates in societies where many believe that their destinies are predetermined, where gender roles are strict, and where there are tight cultural norms and severe punishments for deviance.

The measurements of cultural attributes that the study uses are from previously established ratings, such as those in Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies. The article acknowledges the limitations of that data, including the fact that the years when it was collected don't overlap perfectly with the years of the data on terrorism.

This approach to studying terrorism is relatively uncommon. In academia, "there has been very little attention to cultural factors and their relationship to terrorism," with most research focusing on political, social and psychological factors, the article says.

The article suggests that cultures with rigid thinking may not handle complexity as well and are more likely to see the world in absolute, black-and-white terms.

Notably, while gender inequality and a belief in destiny correlated with more incidents of terrorism, tight norms correlated with more deaths per terrorist attack. The article says this may be because cultures with tight norms rely on extreme punishments to enforce them.

For more:
- go to the article, "Culture and Extremism" (sub. req.)

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