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What motivates devoted actors to extreme sacrifice, identity fusion, or sacred values?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 December 2018

Scott Atran
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France Changing Character of War Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Ángel Gómez
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain. agomez@psi.uned.es Artis International, Scottsdale, AZ 85824.


Why do some individuals willingly make extreme sacrifices for their group? Whitehouse argues that such willingness stems from a visceral feeling of oneness with the group – identity fusion – that emerges from intense, shared dysphoric experiences or from perceived close kinship with others. Although Whitehouse's argument makes a valuable contribution to understanding extreme sacrifice, factors independent of identity fusion, such as devotion to sacred values, can predict self-sacrifice.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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