Unique psychology test – Understanding the mindset of terrorists

For the experiment, researchers worked with a group of 66 incarcerated ex-combatants from a paramilitary terrorist group in Colombia, a country with one of the greatest insurgency rates in the world, says a report in BBC News.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: May 30, 2017, 11:46 AM IST
Unique psychology test – Understanding the mindset of terrorists

New Delhi: A research aiming to 'scientifically understand the mindset of terrorists' offers insights that could have implications for terror prevention.

The experiment was carried out by an international team of researchers based in Argentina, the US, Colombia and Chile.

For the experiment, researchers worked with a group of 66 incarcerated ex-combatants from a paramilitary terrorist group in Colombia, a country with one of the greatest insurgency rates in the world, says a report in BBC News.

This unique experiment revealed what the team described as an 'abnormal pattern of moral judgment' in terrorists.

The researchers say a psychological 'score' based on this could be an accurate way to discriminate between the mindset of a terrorist and that of a non-criminal.

Agustín Ibanez and Adolfo García, from Favaloro University in Buenos Aires, who were part of the international research team, told BBC News they had spent four years working with Colombian law enforcers to secure permission to work with this large group of dangerous, incarcerated terrorists.

Participants in the study were former members of right-wing paramilitary groups, all of whom had been convicted of murder, with many of them involved in massacres with hundreds of victims.

In the study, they were asked to take part in a series of psychological tests, including an assessment of moral cognition.

“The typical response is that attempted harm should be more objected to than accidental harm. But the pattern in terrorists was the opposite,” Dr Ibanez said.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, revealed that 'extreme terrorists judge other people's actions by focusing on the outcomes of an action rather than its underlying intentions.

"This is the first study to demonstrate this psychological trait, [and it suggests that] a terrorist's moral code actually approves of any action if it contributes to achieving a given aim," Dr Ibanez added.