The Role of Sensation Seeking in Political Violence

An Extension of the Significance Quest Theory

Birga M. Schumpe, Jocelyn Belanger, Manuel Moyano, Claudia F. Nisa

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Adventure and excitement have often been invoked to explain why people engage in political violence, yet empirical evidence on the topic has thus far been anecdotal. The present research sought to fill this gap in knowledge by examining the role of sensation seeking in political violence and integrating this concept with Significance Quest Theory (Kruglanski, Chen, Dechesne, Fishman, & Orehek, 2009; Kruglanski et al., 2013). Extending prior research on violent extremism, Study 1 found that sensation seeking mediated the relation between meaning in life and willingness to self-sacrifice and support for political violence. Study 2 established temporal precedence of the variables in the mediation model, using a longitudinal design. Studies 3 and 4 experimentally replicated findings of Studies 1 and 2. In Studies 5a and 5b, we found that sensation seeking predicts support for a real life violent activist group. In Studies 6a and 6b, the positive evaluation of a violent activist group by individuals high in sensation seeking was explained by how exciting they perceived the group to be. Finally, Study 7 introduced an intervention targeting the sensation seeking motive by presenting participants with a peaceful (less exciting vs. exciting) activism group. As hypothesized, providing individuals high in sensation seeking with a peaceful yet exciting group mitigated their support for extreme behavior.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

    Fingerprint

    political violence
    Violence
    Group
    radicalism
    mediation
    Research
    evaluation
    evidence

    Keywords

    • Political violence
    • Search for meaning
    • Self-sacrifice
    • Sensation seeking

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science

    Cite this

    The Role of Sensation Seeking in Political Violence : An Extension of the Significance Quest Theory. / Schumpe, Birga M.; Belanger, Jocelyn; Moyano, Manuel; Nisa, Claudia F.

    In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 01.01.2018.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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