Archive for the ‘Extremism’ Category

I noticed an interesting article in Science Daily about the psychology of extremism.  Apparently, anxiety and uncertainty can cause us to become more idealistic and radical in our beliefs.


The studies

Science Daily reports:

In a series of studies, more than 600 participants were placed in anxiety-provoking or neutral situations and then asked to describe their personal goals and rate their degree of conviction for their religious ideals.  This included asking participants whether they would give their lives for their faith or support a war in its defence.  Across all studies, anxious conditions caused participants to become more eagerly engaged in their ideals and extreme in their religious convictions.


What’s the explanation?

According to Science Daily:

A basic motivational process called Reactive Approach Motivation (RAM) is responsible, according to lead researcher Ian McGregor, Associate Professor in York’s Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health. “Approach motivation is a tenacious state in which people become ‘locked and loaded’ on whatever goal or ideal they are promoting. They feel powerful, and thoughts and feelings related to other issues recede,” he says.

By simply promoting ideals and convictions in their own minds, people can activate approach motivation, narrow their motivational focus away from anxious problems, and feel serene as a result,” says McGregor.


Why am I interested in this research?

I note that I have a tendency to fix on issues and become very evangelical about them.  It gives me a lot of energy and drive and moves my motivational focus away from my life and towards external problems.


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