Bernhard Fink and Robert Trivers

Cognitive simplicity and self-deception are crucial in martyrdom and suicide terrorism

Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Suicide attacks and terrorism are characterized by cognitive simplicity, which is related to self-deception. In justifying violence in pursuit of ideologically and/or politically driven commitment, people with high religious commitment may be particularly prone to mechanisms of self-deception. Related megalomania and glorious self-perception are typical of self-deception, and are thus crucial in the emergence and expression of (suicide) terrorism.