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Aggress Behav. 2009 Nov-Dec;35(6):514-9. doi: 10.1002/ab.20325.

Identifying and changing the normative beliefs about aggression which lead young Muslim adults to join extremist anti-Semitic groups in Pakistan.

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  • 1Department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. naumana@appsy.pu.edu.pk

Abstract

Two studies investigated the role of beliefs about the acceptability of aggression ("normative beliefs") against Jews in determining who would join an extremist group. In Study 1, students in a university in Pakistan (N=144) completed self-report attitude measures, and were subsequently approached by a confederate who asked whether they wanted to join an extremist anti-Semitic organization. Normative beliefs about aggression against Jews were very strong predictors of whether participants agreed to join. In Study 2, participants (N=92) were experimentally assigned to either a brief educational intervention, designed to improve inter-group relations, or to a control group. They also filled in self-report attitude measures pre and post intervention. Participants in the intervention group were much less likely to agree to join the extremist group, and this effect of the intervention on joining was mediated by changes in normative beliefs about aggression against Jews. The results have implications for theories of inter-group aggression and interventions to prevent people from being recruited into extremist groups.

PMID:
19790255
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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