Radicalization and Self Sacrifice


How does fusion – a visceral sense of oneness with one’s group – contribute to radicalization and self-sacrifice? We are exploring the mechanisms that give rise to identity fusion in multiple contexts around the world. We are also seeking ways of de-fusing combatants or harnessing their fusion in the service of peaceful outcomes. More recently we have been collaboratively developing mathematical models showing how conditioning cooperation on previous shared experience can allow extreme self-sacrifice to evolve.

Oxford Team:
Michael Buhrmester
Ben Johannes
Valerie van Mulukom
Harvey Whitehouse

Brock Bastian (Melbourne)
Sergey Gavrilets (Knoxville)
Ángel Gómez Jiménez (Madrid)
Jonathan Jong (Coventry)
Jonathan A. Lanman (Belfast)
Brian McQuinn (Geneva)
Miriam Matthews (Washington)
Bill Swann (Texas)

Selected Publications

Whitehouse, Harvey, Brian McQuinn, Michael Buhrmester, and William B. Swann (2014). Brothers in Arms: Warriors bond like Family. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol 111, No. 50:  pp 17783-17785.

Buhrmester, Michael D., W.T. Fraser, Jonathan A. Lanman, Harvey Whitehouse, & William B. Swann Jr. (2014). When terror hits home: Identity Fused Americans who saw Boston bombing victims as “family” provided aid. Self & Identity.

Whitehouse, Harvey and Brian McQuinn. (2012). Ritual and Violence: Divergent modes of religiosity and armed struggle. In M. Juergensmeyer, M. Kitts & M. Jerryson (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Whitehouse, Harvey (2013). Religion, cohesion, and hostility. In S. Clarke, R. Powell & J. Savulescu (eds.) Religion, Intolerance and Conflict: A Scientific and Conceptual Investigation, Oxford University Press.