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The science behind Isil’s savagery – Telegraph

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Carrying out beheadings and other extreme acts is unthinkable for most people, but the right cocktail of factors can make anyone an extremist, says neuroscientist Prof Ian Robertson.

….

You can see it in the faces of the young male Islamic State militants as they race by on their trucks, black flags waving, broad smiles on their faces, clenched fists aloft, fresh from the slaughter of infidels who would not convert to Islam. What you can see is a biochemical high from a combination of the bonding hormone oxytocin and the dominance hormone testosterone. Much more than cocaine or alcohol, these natural drugs lift mood, induce optimism and energise aggressive action on the part of the group. And because the individual identity has been submerged largely into the group identity, the individual will be much more willing to sacrifice himself in battle – or suicide bombing, for that matter. Why? – Because if I am submerged in the group, I live on in the group even if the individual “me”, dies.

When people bond together, oxytocin levels rise in their blood, but a consequence of this is a greater tendency to demonise and de-humanise the out-group. That is the paradox of selfless giving to your in-group – it makes it easier for you to anaesthetise your empathy for the out-group and to see them as objects. And doing terrible things to objects is fine because they are not human…..

See on telegraph.co.uk

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