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This chapter examines the psychology of support for terrorism in the wake of terrorist attacks. It argues that dynamics involved are best conceptualised as a process of psychological disengagement in which the supporter accepts the moral legitimacy of the attack in the perusal of wider aspirations. A critical ‘point of psychological separation’ (PPS) exists within a spectrum of increasingly immoral terrorist behaviour and beyond which the supporter will be unable to psychologically disengage. Beyond this PPS lies the point of ‘backlash’. In the face of a particularly horrific incident, the supporter rejects the moral legitimacy of the terrorist campaign, withdraws support for the terrorists and accepts the need for State to act against them. The PPS and point of ‘backlash’ are in turn determined by a complex cluster of attitudinal determinants including the type of action involved, the propaganda waged by the terrorists, the actions of others in the theatre of conflict and set against a backdrop of prevailing experiences, attitudes and prejudices of supporter.

In: The New Order of War
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This chapter examines the psychology of support for terrorism in the wake of terrorist attacks. It argues that dynamics involved are best conceptualised as a process of psychological disengagement in which the supporter accepts the moral legitimacy of the attack in the perusal of wider aspirations. A critical ‘point of psychological separation’ (PPS) exists within a spectrum of increasingly immoral terrorist behaviour and beyond which the supporter will be unable to psychologically disengage. Beyond this PPS lies the point of ‘backlash’. In the face of a particularly horrific incident, the supporter rejects the moral legitimacy of the terrorist campaign, withdraws support for the terrorists and accepts the need for State to act against them. The PPS and point of ‘backlash’ are in turn determined by a complex cluster of attitudinal determinants including the type of action involved, the propaganda waged by the terrorists, the actions of others in the theatre of conflict and set against a backdrop of prevailing experiences, attitudes and prejudices of supporter.

In: The New Order of War
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