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Publication Detail
Assessing the relationship between terrorist attacks against ingroup or outgroup members and public support for terrorism
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Schumann S, Rottweiler B, Gill P
  • Publisher:
    Frontiers Media SA
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Frontiers in Psychology
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Country:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    outgroup violence, public opinion, terrorism, time-series, war weariness
  • Notes:
    Copyright © 2022 Schumann, Rottweiler and Gill. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Terrorist groups rely on constituency support for their long-term survival. Here, we examined the extent to which terrorists’ own activities are related with public opinion on terrorism. Specifically, we assessed whether more frequent and more costly terrorist attacks against the ingroup are associated with war weariness or retaliatory sentiments, thus, either weaker or stronger approval of terrorism. We further investigated if more frequent and costly attacks that target an outgroup predict higher levels of justification of terrorism. Lastly, we identified the timeframe during which domestic and outgroup terrorist attacks correlate with (lower or higher) public support. The analyses focused on Jordan (ingroup) and Israel (outgroup), over an 8-year period (2004–2011), drawing on data from the Pew Global Attitudes Survey and the Global Terrorism Database. Results showed that support for terrorism in Jordan decreased in 2005 and, again, in 2008. The frequency of terrorist attacks and fatality/injury rates in Jordan did not vary significantly during the study period. The number of attacks and fatalities/people injured in Israel, however, changed between 2004 and 2011. Cross-correlations of the time-series further demonstrated that the number of attacks and fatalities/people injured in Jordan was not related with the level of public approval of terrorism in the country. Importantly, and in line with the literature, the casualty rate in Israel was positively associated with support for terrorism in Jordan, in the next year. That is, there is evidence that more/less costly terrorist attacks on an outgroup can predict stronger/weaker public support for the tactic relatively quickly. Those findings provide insights for counter-terrorism measures.
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