The psychology of martyrdom: Making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of a cause

Jocelyn Belanger, Julie Caouette, Keren Sharvit, Michelle Dugas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Martyrdom is defined as the psychological readiness to suffer and sacrifice one's life for a cause. An integrative set of 8 studies investigated the concept of martyrdom by creating a new tool to quantitatively assess individuals' propensity toward self-sacrifice. Studies 1A-1C consisted of psychometric work attesting to the scale's unidimensionality, internal consistency, and temporal stability while examining its nomological network. Studies 2A-2B focused on the scale's predictive validity, especially as it relates to extreme behaviors and suicidal terrorism. Studies 3-5 focused on the influence of self-sacrifice on automatic decision making, costly and altruistic behaviors, and morality judgments. Results involving more than 2,900 participants from different populations, including a terrorist sample, supported the proposed conceptualization of martyrdom and demonstrated its importance for a vast repertoire of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral phenomena. Implications and future directions for the psychology of terrorism are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-515
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume107
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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Terrorism
terrorism
psychology
altruistic behavior
decision making behavior
Psychology
cause
Psychometrics
morality
psychometrics
Decision Making
Population
Direction compound

Keywords

  • Cause
  • Martyrdom
  • Meaning
  • Self-sacrifice
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

The psychology of martyrdom : Making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of a cause. / Belanger, Jocelyn; Caouette, Julie; Sharvit, Keren; Dugas, Michelle.

In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 107, No. 3, 01.01.2014, p. 494-515.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Belanger, Jocelyn ; Caouette, Julie ; Sharvit, Keren ; Dugas, Michelle. / The psychology of martyrdom : Making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of a cause. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2014 ; Vol. 107, No. 3. pp. 494-515.
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