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The Concept of Good and Evil in Relation to the Development of Terrorism

Updated on February 24, 2015

The concepts of “good” and “evil” do not seem to be broadly identified in the field of psychology. In most cases, these terms are related with religious and ethical practices and not in the field of psychological. However, whenever one leaves the aspect of ethic and the criterion employed in discriminating on what is good or bad and simply select the concept of evil and good, he or she could find out how these aspects could illusion the minds of a human being. Looking deep into the human psyche, it is easy to understand the unsteady nature of such illusions. In essence, the illusions of “evil” and “good” does not only cause conflicts within the minds of human beings, but has also been attributed as the main cause of tragedies that afflict man including terrorism, wars, crime, and oppression. This paper looks into the concept of good and evil in relation to the development of terrorism.

Factors that May Lead to Transformation of Good People into Terrorists

Situational Factors

Situational factors play a huge role in influencing individuals into becoming terrorists. A good instance is political motivations, which may differ from rare resentment of sensed antagonists and felt obstructions into a raised consciousness, as well as evaluation of the political contexts. Mob violence against despised ethnic or racial groups may not have particular goals and rationale. This is irrespective of whether the media or politicians may ascribe responsibility for these violence to conspirators or agitators. At a higher level of planned attacks are premeditated attacks by individuals who are triggered by messages that appear ideological in nature, those warning them of some kind of threat such as extinction of some race, environmental catastrophe, interference of national sovereignty, economic catastrophes and vesting blame on some population such as Arabs, Jews, blacks, whites and other races. These individuals may also blame these aspects on some institutions such as occupation movement, American Zionist, International Monetary Fund, or the United Nations. A good example in these perspective are revolutionary strategists such as Carlos Marighela and Che Guevara and counterrevolutionary strategists such as Markus Wolff from East German and General Augusto Pinochet from Argentina who apply reason to planning. These characters also provide justification to consistent utilization of terrorism and other manner of violence for political outcomes. Whether in the revolutionists perspective of bomb manufacturing and guerrilla war or the low level warfare by the counterrevolutionists, the basis for violence are generated from the understanding of social and historical dimensions of conflict context (Crenshaw, 2010).

Social Factors

Social factors have also been claimed to influence individuals into engaging into terrorism activities. In this perspective, a study carried out by Russel and Miller (2008) established the following caliber of individuals who joined terrorism activities in America

  • Most were between the age bracket of 22-25
  • 80% of them were of the male gender, with women providing support roles
  • 75-80% of them were single
  • 66% of them felt in the upper and middle class background
  • 18% harbored strong religious beliefs
  • 17% were unemployed


The illusion of evil and good is certainly dangerous in a society. This is because it is the root cause for majority of the conflicts being experienced in the world today including terrorism and war. It therefore, becomes critical to spread awareness concern the adverse effect of the illusion of evil and good in order to eliminate terrorism and achieve a stable world peace. It is through sharing of information and removing the illusion of good and evil nested in people’s minds that the act of terrorism and other forms of war could be prevented and reduced.


Crenshaw, M (2010), The Logic of Terrorism: Terrorist Behavior as a Product of Strategic

Choice, Origins of Terrorism. Edited by Walter Reich. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Russell, C and Miller, B (2008). Profile of a terrorist. Terrorism: An international journal 1(1): 17-34


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