Personality Traits and Terrorism


Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)

Many researchers claim that individuals who engage in terrorism do not share distinct personality traits, a claim well accepted in academia, government, and the intelligence community. A thorough review of the literature, however, has yielded no evidence for this claim and found only three studies where the personality traits of terrorists were measured. Each study reported distinct profiles among terrorists. Therefore, a link between personality and terrorism remains possible. Researching how personality affects an individual’s involvement in terrorism may contribute to a better understanding of radicalization, and potentially increase the effectiveness of programs aimed at countering violent extremism.

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TSAS WP15-05

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