This research demonstrates that the degree of bias or rationality that people impute to terrorists influences the types of strategies that they advocate for combating terrorism. In 2 experiments, participants read depictions of terrorists that described their decision making as either rooted in rationality and objectivity or as distorted by irrationality and bias. When terrorists were depicted as biased and irrational (vs. as objective and rational), participants were more likely to advocate military action against terrorism and less likely to advocate diplomacy. This effect was mediated by perceptions of terrorists' capacity for reason rather than by affective responses toward terrorists. This research also shows that perceptions of terrorists as rational and objective versus irrational and biased are not simply fixed in individuals' minds but can be influenced by contextual manipulations, including putative news reports.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Applied Psychology