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Towards a Psychological understanding of Extremism

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The scant work on the psychology of extremism has largely revolved around two main aims: to focus on a specific target group, or to find fault in the incumbent. The shortfall of these aims has been that the findings tend to be limiting; they don’t tell us the reasons or contexts involved in construing individuals or acts as extreme. This research then digresses from the mainstream approach employed within research on extremism, and has expanded the scope to include an amalgamation of various facets of extreme actions, agents, and beliefs, all of whom show their respective colours distinctively when placed in a specific context. The idea is to investigate whether extremism is a condition or a judgement on a condition. In order to unearth the conceptualization of extremism across nations, cultures, and languages, this research draws on an international sample, spanning all 7 continents, over 50 nationalities, and the 6 official UN languages. Hence with a portrayal of diverse global perspectives, the evidence obtained in terms of how people conceive extremism is a significant first step. This conceptual framework based on the set of exploratory studies can serve as a platform towards a better understanding – and subsequent management – of extremism.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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