Terrorism is as old as history and almost certainly older. In 68 B.C., for instance, the Roman city of Ostia, a vital port for one of the world’s earliest superpowers, was set on fire by a band of thugs. They destroyed the consular war fleet and, rather embarrassingly, kidnapped two leading senators. Panic ensued—the same panic that has now been recapitulated down the centuries, courtesy of such terror groups as the Irish Republican Army, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the African National Congress, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, al Qaeda and, most recently, ISIS.
So in this article, we step up to the challenge of placing social psychology center stage in the war on terror. We will not pretend it was easy: over the years the field has generated a considerable body of empirically laundered wisdom. But after lively discussions with an international group of experts, we have homed in on seven exemplary studies across an eclectic array of research areas—from social cognition to conflict resolution. We believe each has direct implications not just for policy decisions but for all of us as individuals in a fast-changing world.
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