Research that has focused on the psychological characteristics of terrorists or the conditions or environments that seem to foster terrorism is in its very early stages. Studies that have examined terrorists and their characteristics have only recently begun to be published by psychologists in the past 5 to 7 years or so. If you are interested in this intriguing subspecialty, there are plenty of opportunities to develop this field of study. This Discussion post provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate an understanding of how forensic psychology can contribute to the study of terrorists. Select a terrorist and analyze him or her according to the ways in which other psychology professionals have analyzed terrorists.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources, particularly the articles about features of terrorists and the websites that provide information about individual terrorists.
  • Select an individual terrorist and gather information about him or her on the Internet.


  • Give a brief definition of terrorism, focusing on how it is differentiated from other acts of violence.
  • Identify a specific terrorist and summarize the types of terrorist acts he or she has allegedly engaged in.
  • Compare characteristics of the terrorist to the characteristics summarized in the articles found in the Learning Resources:
    Borum (2014): “Vulnerabilities and propensities” of extremists such as “attitudes, dispositions, inclinations, and intentions (p. 286)”
    McCauley, et al. (2013): “Grievance, depression, personal crisis, and learned weapon use outside of the military (p. 1)”
    Nizami, et al. (2014): “Historical, geopolitical, anthropological and psychosocial factors and forces (p. 335)”
  • Briefly explain the role of the forensic psychology professional in identifying potential terrorists.







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