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

  • Scott Atran (a1) (a2) and Ángel Gómez (a3) (a4)

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.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
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