A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Deterrence, Terrorism, and Psychology


Deterrence, Terrorism, and Psychology

Abstract: 

This article seeks to evaluate anti-terrorism strategies from a psychological perspective.  Two major deterrent strategies are identified: the Denial Strategy and the Reintegrative Strategy.  It is the contention of this article that both these strategies may be thought  of as practical applications of different theories of crime deterrence.  The Denial Strategy effectively mirrors early theories of crime deterrence, which concentrate on minimizing the benefits, and increasing the costs, of crime through legal sanctions.  By way of contrast, the Reintegrative Punishment Strategy represents a modern and more sophisticated theory of deterrence, which recognizes the cost of non-legal sanctions to the terrorist and the need to reintegrate the terrorist back into society.  This article discusses the relative psychological merits of both these strategies, focusing on the normal psychology of the terrorist.  In the course of this examination two major defects of the Denial Strategy are established and it is argued that the Reintegrative Punishment Strategy of deterring terrorism has greater psychological validity because it confronts the issues of the alienation and reintegration of the terrorist.  These findings highlight the dangers of policy-makers neglecting the psychology of the terrorist.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Crenshaw, Martha. 2009. "Deterrence, Terrorism, and Psychology." Presented at the 32nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Dublin. http://www.artisresearch.com/articles/ginges_1997_deterring_the_terroris...

START Author(s): 
Martha Crenshaw
Publication URL: 
Visit Website