"The FBI defines three types of terrorists: (1) a leader with a strong commitment to their groups belief system; (2) an "activist operator" who often has a criminal background and implements their groups agenda; and (3) an idealist who finds a sense of purpose in his commitment to their group." (Kressel, 82) In the field of psychology, it is the psychologists duty to try to come up with theories or correlations, which help people group and identify terrorist or terroristic behavior, quickly and consistantly. There are many common assumptions about the common terrorist, but there are no true or definite catagories to place them in. A terrorist is formed by his environment either through ways of social interaction, their economy class, media influence or simply societal expectation.
The social learning theory of Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Bandura stated that learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. He believed that most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling. From observing others he believed that one could form an idea of how new behaviors are preformed. This theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences.
The social learning theory has been applied extensively to the understanding of aggression (Bandura, 1973) and psychological disorders, particularly in the context of behavior modification (Bandura, 1969). It is also the theoretical foundation for the technique of behavior modeling which is widely used in training programs. The most common examples of social learning situations are television commercials. Commercials suggest that drinking a certain beverage or using a particular hair shampoo will make us popular and win the admiration of attractive people. Depending upon the component processes involved, we try to model the behavior shown in the commercial and buy the product being advertised. By looking at Bandura's Social Learning Theory as it relates to terrorists and their activity, it shows that if a person sees a terroristic attack on television and the controversy it causes and the so called fame that the terrorist recieves he or she may learn that behavior.
Criminologist Edwin H. Sutherland's theory of Differential Association states that criminal behavior is leaned behavior and learned via social interaction. He based his theory upon the work of Shaw and McKay, Chicago school theorists. He drew upon three major theories from the Chicago School to formulate his theory. These included the ecological and cultural transmission theory, symbolic interactionism, and culture conflict. He explained varying crime rates by the culture conflict approach and the process by which individuals became criminal was expressed by the symbolic interactionism approach. These helped him form his theory with an attempt to explain not only indivudual criminal behavior but also the behavior of societal groups, such as the Muslim Extremists.
In his findings Sutherland came to the conclusion that patterns in association would differ from person to person. He believed that crime came from a conflicting value system. He based his theory on the social environment and its effects on people and what they gain from their environment.
Sutherland based his theory upon nine postulates:
1. Criminal behavior is learned.
2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication.
3. The majority of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups. 4. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes techniques of committing the crime, which range from being very simple to very complex. 5. The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable.
6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to the violation of laws.
7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity.
8. The process of leaning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anticriminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning.
9. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values, since non criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values.
By using the theory of Differential Association it suggests that any behavior, being violent or nonviolent, is learned based on the interactions we have with people and the values that come from those interactions. The values that one picks up from those interactions can support or oppose criminal behavior. In his finds Sutherland also noted that persons with an excess of criminal definitions will be more open to new criminal defintions and that individual will be less receptive to anitcriminal defitintions. Once those definitions are learned criminal behavior may be learned from just about anyone.
Another common conception of today's society, which is also a twist to social learning is that we are what we watch. This means we tend to mimic what we see and hear on the television and radio. In 1954 the first congressional hearings took place on the effects of television violence. Although at this time television was fairly new, its strong marketing power was clearly evident. The television was telling people what to eat, what to buy, and how to act. "In the 1956 study, one dozen four-year olds watched a "Woody Woodpecker" cartoon that was full of violent images. Twelve other preschoolers watched "Little Red Hen," a peaceful cartoon. Then the children were observed. The children who watch "Woody Woodpecker" were more likely to hit other children, verbally accost their classmates, break toys, be disruptive, and engage in destructive behavior during free play. (Bender, 18) For the next thirty years, researchers in all walks of social sciences have studied the question of whether television causes violence. The results all seem to be conclusive-watching violent television leads to violent activites.
Persons see this violent activity on the television and believe it is okay and accepted in our society. Children see the violence and how it is projected and start to think it is okay to hit or kill to get what you want. They believe that it an accepted thing to steal someone's shoes or that it's a cool thing to do. As with terrorism, a criminal may see the plublicity that other criminals may get and decide that they would like to do something like that for the sense of attention that they feel they need.
Another prime example of media violence is the profanity, sexual language and violence expressed in the music of today. From the music of today and the past cultures such as heavy metal, we find that it's okay to abuse drugs, casual sex is fine, and that violence is an acceptable form of behavior. A report by Free Congress comments that "heavy metal and rap music today contains an element of hatred and abuse of women of a degree never seen before." In addition to extraordinary sexism, they contain equally offensive racism, blasphemy, and bigotry. (Bender, 152)
Dr. Paul King, a psychologist found that the major themes of heavy metal rock of the eighties fell into five categories: (1) Aggressive Rebellion, (2) Abuse of Drugs and Alcohol, (3) Graphic Violence and Suicide, (4) Fascination with the Occult, and (5) Sexuality that is graphic and explicit. All of these are not only found in "heavy metal" but in all forms of music. Many believe that the crude lyrics and violent videos contribute greatly to the violence of today's modern criminal.
Media violence all together stimulates new aggressive thoughts and ideas. It gives people the idea of something new, for example a new way to kill some one or yet to place the bomb. It also acquires new aggressive responses to situations. A child that usually is calm may see a violent act on the television and decided that next time someone try to take a toy from him he is going to hit them, because he saw on the television that the person who used the violence got what they wanted. Another negative aspect of media violence comes in when it desensitizes our reaction to violence. When we see a mugging on television and see it constantly we think that it is just a normal part of our society, thus when it happens in reality one merely ignors the violence and goes right by the crime as if nothing has happened.