Definition: Group Psychology refers to the phenomenon and study of how organizations and groups behave. Terrorism has long been defined in terms of the individual psychological makeup of each actor. Some prominent scholars now agree that individual members of terrorist groups relinquish or subordinate their own identity to that of the group. Thus, to best understand how and why terrorist groups work, and how best to engage and ultimately counter them, a study of their group psychology is necessary. The participants of the 2005 Club de Madrid International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security made the case for group psychology. Jerrold Post, a prominent expert on political psychology and International Affairs, writing on behalf of the group, writes that:
A clear consensus exists that it is not individual psychology, but group, organizational and social psychology, that provides the greatest analytical power in understanding this complex phenomenon. Terrorists have subordinated their individual identity to the collective identity, so that what serves the group, organization or network is of primary importance. For some groups, especially nationalist/separatist terrorist groups, this collective identity is established extremely early: hatred, one may say, is 'bred in the bone.' This, in turn, emphasizes the socio-cultural context, which determines the balance between collective and individual identity.
A .pdf file report of Dr. Post's remarks can be downloaded from the Club de Madrid Series on Democracy and Terrorism website.
Examples:Nationalist groups with strong collective identities include the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Palestinian group, Hamas