MSPS Colloquium - Professor Fathali M. Moghaddam

Mutual Radicalization: How Groups and Nations Drive Each Other to Extremes

Ten illustrative case studies are used to demonstrate a psychological model of mutual radicalization, the dynamic process through which two groups in effect ‘radicalize’ one another – that is, when they become increasingly extreme in their views, develop deep distrust of one another, move further and further apart in the process, and often take actions that are contrary to their own self-interests. Group members entrapped in mutual radicalization become blind to their own motivations and actions. But they continue to behave irrationally because they support one another’s worldview, confirming their correctness even as they are falling off the edge of a cliff. Although some individuals clearly see their group is misguided, they fail to stop the collective stampede. Psychological research suggests a number of strategies for mutual de-radicalization and these are also discussed.

Speaker Bio: Fathali M. Moghaddam is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. For six years he served as the Director of the Georgetown Conflict Resolution Program (Government Department). He is the Editor-in-Chief of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology (APA Journals). He previously worked for the United Nations and McGill University. His most recent books include Mutual Radicalization: How Groups and Nations Drive Each Other to Extremes (2018), The Psychology of Radical Social Change (2018, with B. Wagoner and J. Valsiner), The Encyclopedia of Political Behavior (2017, 2.vols), The Psychology of Democracy (2016), Questioning Causality (with Rom Harré, 2016), The Psychology of Dictatorship (2013).