Admiration for Islamist groups encourages self-sacrifice through identity fusion

Gómez, J. J. Bélanger, J. Chinchilla, A. Vázquez, B. M. Schumpe, C. F. Nisa, S. Chiclana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The psychological mechanisms that lead terrorists to make costly sacrifices for their ideological convictions are of great theoretical and practical importance. We investigate two key components of this process: (1) the feeling of admiration toward ingroup members making costly self-sacrifices for their ideological group, and (2) identity fusion with religion. Data collected in 27 Spanish prisons reveal that jihadists’ admiration toward members of radical Islamist groups amplifies their willingness to engage in costly sacrifices for religion in prison. This effect is produced because admiration toward radical Islamist groups has a binding effect, increasing identity fusion with religion. Five additional experiments provide causal and behavioural evidence for this model. By showing that admiration for ingroup members increases identity fusion, which in turn makes individuals prone to engage in costly pro-group behaviours, we provide insights into the emotional machineries of radicalization and open new avenues for prevention strategies to strengthen public safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number54
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology
  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


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