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Essay: Is Suicide Terrorism Part of Human Nature?

Raaij, M. J. van (2016) Essay: Is Suicide Terrorism Part of Human Nature? Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Suicide terrorism has increased rapidly over the past 15 years. The fact that such suicidal self-sacrificing behavior occurs both in humans and other species suggests that there are some evolutionary roots to this type of behavior, and thus might be the case in suicide terrorism. The aim of this thesis is to explore what evolutionary theories might play a role in explaining the underlying motives of suicide terrorism. To answer this, six theories will be reviewed: individual selection, kin selection, group selection, manipulation, cultural evolution and suicidal self-sacrifice as a non-adapted side effect. The fact that suicide terrorists intend to die and often do not have direct offspring yet weakens the suggestion of involvement of individual selection. Kin selection might play a role if the benefits for kin outnumber the costs of a human life. Lastly, suicidal self-sacrificing behavior as a non-adaptive side effect might not be likely to contribute to the explanation of the underlying motives of suicide terrorism. Contrary, group selection seems to play a role; suicide attacks are mostly performed in an organizational context. Manipulation seems to be a strategy for recruiting individuals to complete the organization’s plan of a suicide attack. Cultural evolution might be the main motive for individuals and organizations to commit suicide attacks, since it seems to be an effective way of spreading cultural traits. According to my assessment, I consider a combination between group selection, manipulation and cultural evolution most likely as the main drive behind suicide terrorism.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:12
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:12

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