Arie Kruglanski, from the study of terrorism to social psychology

Arie Kruglanski, from the study of terrorism to social psychology

In the field of current social psychology there is a key figure. This is that of Arie Kruglanski, prolific psychologist and researcher He has developed important theories throughout his career. Let's get to know him better.


  • 1 Who is Arie Kurglanski
  • 2 Fundamentals of social psychology
  • 3 Understand Kruglanski's research

Who is Arie Kurglanski

Arie W. Kruglanski is a professor at the University of Maryland, in the United States. He was born in Poland, but has spent most of his life in the US, where he has dedicated himself to the study of Social psychology and specifically phenomenon of terrorism and psychosocial factors that influence its appearance.

Although he began studying the theory of cognitive closure, throughout his career he has carried out studies through which he has made contributions in various fields, accounting for his discoveries in many articles and books.

The large areas in which your study are the need for cognitive closure, motivational preparation and the search for meaning. Each of these theories is related to the others and they influence each other, which further enriches their research.

But, without a doubt, one of the vital experiences that has marked his work and his study was survive the holocaust. This is the main reason that Arie W. Kruglanski has explored the social psychology behind radical violence in order to detect and stop it.

Fundamentals of social psychology

First, Cognitive closure appeals to the need to give a quick answer to a confusing question or question. This is because the human being has an incipient need to obtain information. Thanks to this cognitive closure we managed to form an idea.

How does this translate? According to this theory, people who have a high need for closure are better able to overcome uncertainty. Thus, they can draw conclusions through the data they have, without needing to search for more information.

As to motivational preparation is explained through desire. Thus, our desires arise due to the influences we receive from our environment. Desire consists of two components: content and magnitude. That is, what we want and how much we want it.

On the other hand, we have an expectation regarding that desire. The more likely we are to satisfy that desire, the greater the expectation. Due, motivation occurs.

Another of the needs that human beings have as explained by this psychologist is to have a meaning. This means that we need to have a goal, something that makes us feel that we are important and that the decisions we make have an end.

At the moment when this meaning is not found or lost, we will need to win it by some means. This is the germ, according to Kruglanski, of many violent attitudes, and can lead to violent extremism.

Therefore, the studies of this psychologist conclude that, if our environment supports the violence, and also joins that we are looking for meaning in our lives, it is very possible that this person ends up using violence. Thus explains the emergence of phenomena such as terrorism.

Understand Kruglanski's research

As we mentioned earlier, Kruglanski's main contribution to social psychology is the understanding of terrorism. And, according to social psychology, people's behavior is predisposed by their social and structural framework.

As a consequence, terrorist attacks can be interpreted in a much more complex way than the simple psychological determination of the person who chooses to perform such acts, but as the result of multiple social processes.

Thus, according to the words of this psychologist, terrorism can be explained as a minority social influence strategy. That is, a pressure instrument by a minority group.

Likewise, some common characteristics are determined in the life of a terrorist group. These are a relative isolation at social and psychological level, especially before people who have different visa points

There are also pressures to comply with the rules of the organization, which is usually always closely linked to the figure of a leader and has a very strong component at the ideological level.

In this sense, the term we talked about at the beginning also comes into play: the need for cognitive closure. This is a powerful desire to feel right and feel reinforced in their decisions. This is also manifested in the form of rejection of opinions that differ from group opinions.

In short, Arie W. Kruglanski is one of the key figures to understand the social psychology of our current affairs. Knowing his work and his studies can be very useful to put into practice some of his teachings.