DEINDIVIDUATION PROCESSES IN TERRORIST ATTACKS: FINDINGS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND
Silke, A., University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Deindividuation processes have been credited with explaining much of the ability of terrorists to carry out acts of often extreme violence. This study examined the impact a major facilitator of deindividuation, anonymity, had on violent terrorist assaults which occurred in Northern Ireland. Of 500 attacks studied, 206 were carried out by offenders who wore disguises to mask their identities. The findings revealed that there were significant positive relationships between the use of disguises and several measures of aggression. Disguised offenders inflicted more serious physical injuries, attacked more people at the scene, engaged in more acts of vandalism, and were more likely to threaten victims afterwards. The specific and general results of this research are discussed in relation to research on the event-scene behaviour of terrorists. Also, considered are possible lessons for victims and law enforcement and security professionals.