Motivation and emotion/Book/2016/Ideological motivation and violent crime

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Ideological motivation:
What is the role of ideological motivation in violent crime?

Overview[edit | edit source]

The term motivation refers to factors that activate, direct, and sustain goal-directed behavior ... Motives are the "whys" of behavior - the needs or wants that drive behavior and explain what we do. We don't actually observe a motive; rather, we infer that one exists based on the behavior we observe. (Nevid, 2013, p.[missing something?])

Ideology is a scheme of ideas which can help to explain reality. Ideologies are established because reality is often way too complex to be understood by an individual[factual?]. An ideology can almost always reflect a bias; and its purpose is to serve the interests of a particular group (Steger, Manfred, B; James, Paul, 2013). Ideological motivation can be referred to [Rewrite to improve clarity] an individual which is ideological motivated in the purpose of imposing their political, cultural etc. ideals on others or that they are motivated in committing a crime based on their political and cultural beliefs. Ideologies either can simplify reality or completely distort someone’s reality (Terry Eagleton, 1991). It is probably true that the use of ideology has created more difficulties than it has solved.

What is motivation?[edit | edit source]

Motivation is defined as a reason for acting or behaving in a particular way, which is also a process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviours (Maehr, Martin L; Mayer, Heather, 1997). Motivation is the process that causes us to act, whether it is exercising to lose weight or eating to reduce hunger. Nevid (2013) as quoted above motivation is the motive of behaviour, on why an individual needs or wants in their behaviour and explain why the person does that behaviour. people have many different reasons in why they are motivated to do what they do. whether that be if they are at risk of a heart attack a person may be motivated to workout and get healthier, this is one example.

Motivation also involves biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces (Elliot, Andrew J; Covington, Martin, 2001). Psychologists have suggested different theories of motivation, which include drive theory, instinct theory, and humanistic theory, to name a few. The reality is that there are many different forces that guide and direct our motivations.

Motivation involves a broad range of theories; why people behave the way they do, and what is behind their reasoning are a few examples. The extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation theory is also another one of importance. Different types of motivations are often described as either being extrinsic or intrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivations come from outside the individual and often involves rewards, such as trophies, money, socially praise and recognition (Mark R. Lepper, David Greene and Richard Nisbet, 1973). On the other hand, intrinsic motivations arise from within the individual; doing something like a difficult puzzle for the pure purpose of having that personal gratification of completing that hard puzzle is an example of intrinsic motivation (Barbara A. Marinak and Linda B. Gambrell, 2008)

Deci, E., & Ryan, R (2002) describe the self determination theory (SDT) is a theory of human motivation that concerns people’s inherent growth tendencies and distinctive psychological needs. SDT is focused on the motivation behind choices people make without external influence (Deci, E., Ryan, R, 2002). SDT in respect to ideological motivation shows can help us understand in the external motives and psychological needs in ideological motivation to commit a crime.

Another common motivation theory is drive theory. The principal behind drive theory is that an individual is born with a psychological need, when these needs are unsatisfied, the individual embodies a negative state and tension. (Schacter D.L., Gilbert, D.L. and Wegner, D.M (2011). When the need is satisfied, drive is then reduced and the individual returns to this homoeostasis state and remains relaxed. According to the theory, drive tends to increase over time and operates on a feedback control system, much like a thermostat (Seward, J., 1996)

Violent crime[edit | edit source]

Violent crime is a crime where an offender uses or threatens their force upon a victim (Larry Greenemeier, 2001). It involves both a violent act which is objective, such as murder, as well as a crime in which the violence is a means to an end. Violent crimes may be committed with a weapon of choice or they may be committed without a weapon (ABS, 2014).

Crime is a constant part of our[which?] society.

Violent crimes include (but not limited to) bank robberies, terrorism, rape, kidnapping, murder, and organised crime (Larry Greenemeier, 2001). Most violent crimes are considered felonies as they are the most serious crimes, and carry a sentence of one year or more in prison. How a violent crime is approached legally depends very much on how the crime is defined. There are many legal terms for different violent crimes, which can possibly become challenging for some people to follow.

What types of crimes are there?[edit | edit source]

The Australian Institute of Criminology (2015) says thatches are most common types of violent crimes:

homicide: Which is the killing of one person by another, regardless of the circumstance at hand and whether or not they know the person or not.

murder: The intentional killing of another human being

• Serial Killing: When an individual kill’s more than two people, this becomes a serial killer.

• First-degree murder: A term some states use to refer to an intentional killing.

Violent crime by US state in 2004 click through to see the colour legend).

• Second-degree murder: an expression that states use to refer to an unintentional kill, where the killer demonstrates “extreme indifference to human life”.

manslaughter: The unintentional killing of another person, where that killer engages in a reckless conduct which then causes another person’s death.

• Battery: The act of making offensive contact with someone violently.

• Assault: The threat of battery, attempted battery upon someone and physically hurting another person. Aggravated assault is when a dangerous or deadly weapon is used in order to create serious injury to someone.

• Terrorism: The unofficial or unauthorised use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims

Why do people commit a crime?[edit | edit source]

Different theories explain as to why people are motivated to commit criminality. Biological, psychological and even environmentally influences have been said to motivate people to commit a crime.

The infamous Sigmund Freud had his own psychological views as to why people are motivated to commit a crime. He proposed that deviance in an individual result from an excessive sense of guilt as a result of an overdeveloped ego (C. N Trueman, 2016). Freud asserted that people with an overdeveloped superego which makes the person feel guilty for no reason and they wish to be punished because of this and to relieve that guilt that they feel, and by committing a crime will relieve that guilt. Freud also had the ‘pleasure principle’ that humans have a basic unconscious urge and desire for immediate gratification. He also believed that if these couldn’t be met legally that a person instinctively tries to obtain it illegally (C. N Trueman, 2016)

On the other hand, Albert Bandura’s theory was that delinquent and criminal behaviour is learned via the same psychological process as any other behaviour; through and repeated exposure to rewards (reinforcements). Bandura believes that people observe others’ behaviours and decide whether or not to adopt them. This can be very motivating for some people that then engage in criminal violent activity (C.N Trueman, 2016).

Ideological motivation - what is it?[edit | edit source]

The meaning of an ideological motivation is an adjective that describes political, cultural, or religious beliefs. An ideology is a body of ideas, and those who agree with the main idea of something take an ideological stand to support it whether that be legal or illegal. There are many types of ideologies or ideological motivations, but the most prominent ideologies of the last century are Communism, Fascism, Liberalism and Conservatism.

Conservatism[edit | edit source]

Conservatism is an ideology which values the status quo and hesitantly accepts change at a very slow pace. Conservatism is based upon the foundation that humans are the product of a steady process of experience, and what they have tolerated because they have been proven to be greatly effective over a period of time. They believe that it would be foolish to change these human behaviours and practices in any way. (Jost et al., 2003)

Liberalism[edit | edit source]

Liberalism is a type of ideology which supports the equality of opportunity for all within a framework of a system of laws. This includes a belief in a government as an institution whose primary focus is to enforce the laws. Liberalism involves a belief in the need for a legislative body (influential leader) which can represent many groups (Jost et al., 2009). Liberalism is concerned with allowing freedom for the individual within the context of the system of laws which limit an individual and their rights by a government. The liberal ideology also almost always involves a bill of rights that define the rights of an individual and especially to limit the power of a government to interfere with their rights (Jost et al., 2003).

Fascism[edit | edit source]

Fascism is when a certain degree of development has created a literate, though not particularly sophisticated public. Control of the press and the use of propaganda is absolutely essential in fascism. The use of the press and the use of propaganda with fascism is most commonly used among terrorists in recruiting new members into their group and also Fascism influences everyone in there group about the ‘enemy’ and keeps the new recruits in place in their terrorist group.

Totalitarianism shares several of the characteristics of fascism; the all-powerful leader, the police state, the control of the press, the propaganda these type of characteristics (John Adams, 2013). The main difference to Fascism is that Totalitarianism is the emphasis that is placed upon attaining total control by the use of modern technology (John Adams, 2013). This works with violent crime because many criminals are motivated by power and use modern technology in order to inflict pain upon the innocent.

Communism[edit | edit source]

By definition of the oxford dictionary, the ideology communism is a theory or system of social organization in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs (Oxford dictionary, 2014). The two types of communism focused here is Marxism – Leninism and Stalinism. Stalinism can be thought of s being a rough equivalent to Marxism- Leninism although some researchers say that this is not the case (Alan Johnson, 2012). These are terms that practically means that it is a type of system that involves politics and government.

Quiz questions Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 Totalitarianism shares the same characteristic as which other ideology?


2 True or False - Liberalism is concerned with allowing freedom for the individual ?


Homicides and Ideology[edit | edit source]

Ideologies play a role in why people choose to commit a violent crime and especially why they choose to commit murder or several homicides. For [vague] centuries people have been killing in the name of religion and this ideological trend has only gotten stronger[factual?]. Everyday we are witnessing a surge of killing based on a little[say what?] of liberalism, totalitarianism and fascism ideologies. (Drake, C.J.M,1998). For example, there have been numerous killings in Asia and the Middle East [when?] based upon Fascist ideologies that many people need to use religion as a means to kill the ‘enemy’. They [who?] are motivated to commit these violent crimes because they are taught by Fascism that this is the right thing to do which leads to internal and external motives that come into play for when a person commits a crime (Schacter, D.L., et al., 2009)

Straight from the mouths of serial killers

"You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You're looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God!"

Ted Bundy.

Killing for a religious purpose has a very rational basis, more than people imagine. This is the ultimate ideological statement, its not just a private desire but also a communal desire satisfied (Greenmeier. Larry, 2001). There are types of killers which like to record their violent crimes and homicides. Slaughtering their victims in such a public manner is an ultimate statement of religious power and control[factual?]. Within religion there is always a power struggle, and it seems as though many criminals think that in order to gain this power that they need to use violence to do so[factual?]. This is a prime example of totalitarianism ideology in why people are motivated in committing homicides (Trueman, C.N, 2015).

Terrorism and Ideological Motivation[edit | edit source]

When you hear the term ‘terrorist’ or terrorism you immediately refer to a person that is violent in the name of religion and their goal is to commit excessive murder, which usually leads the ‘terrorist’ to commit suicide in the violent crime act as well[factual?]. In its broadest sense terrorism is an intentional indiscriminate act of violence or you could call it indiscriminative terror in order for an individual or group to achieve a political, religious or ideological aim (Fortna, 2015). Ideological terrorism can also refer to small groups who terrorize for the sole purpose of imposing the groups political ideals upon others. The same goes with terrorism and the use of recording their crime in order to force terror amongst civilians and it is the ultimate ideological statement that a criminal could do (Amalendu Misra, 2015).

Figure 1.Former leader of terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden

Terrorists, especially suicide bombers, feel that they will achieve something of tremendous significance through their acts (Kruglanski & Orehek, 2011). Terrorism is perceived to be the path to heroism. Underlying the act of terrorism is typically a social component (desire to be part of a group), an emotional component (many terrorists are recruited by first being shown films of atrocities being committed against the community), and an ideological component (a set of beliefs that condone violence for the sake of the in- group) it is the ideological component that serves as the person’s acquired malevolent value system (Kruglanski, 2009).

Is the ideology of terrorists who commit these violent acts of mass murder against non Muslims and Muslims the same? Overall, this ideology is completely influenced by twentieth century Western totalitarianism (Michael Chertoff, 2008). As for the totalitarianism, it is also ideologies such as communism and fascism that extremists have used in the past and have used a lot more regularly since the 20th century (Michael Chertoff, 2008).

The extremists that are involved in terrorist acts have been mistreating Islam as a political ideology. and in doing so, extremists mirror the ideas of other ideologies as mentioned before that sought out radical and propaganda recording, which is achieved via mass violence and individual’s violence upon society and innocent civilians (C.J.M Drake, 1998).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

This book chapter focused on motivation and more specifically, the ideological motivation behind why a person commits a violent crime. To comprehend what ideological motivation is, firstly motivation itself needs to be understood, using extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation, SDT and drive theory, in order to understand motivation. Ideological motivation has been around for many years and there has been lots of research and theory around ideologies and how these affect someone to commit a crime. Ideological motivation is a body of ideas and an idea of someone taking an ideological stand to support a main idea whether it be in a legal or illegal way. As mentioned throughout, Communism, Fascism, Liberalism and Conservatism are the most prominent ideological motivations. Ideologies motivate people in many different ways whether that be political or religious for example. These then lead [how?] that person’s motivation in committing a violent crime could lead to an individual’s death or mass death. Further research in stopping these ideologies in manipulating and motivating people to commit violence could stop these murders and crimes from occurring[Provide more detail].

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

• Adams, John (2013). " What was an ideology? Does it mean Idiotism? The Science of Non Compos Mentalism? The Science of Lunacy? The Theory of Delirium?"

• Amalendu, Misra (2015) Senior Lecturer, Department: Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, Why kill? The dreadful psychology behind acts of terror.

• Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014). "Crime Victimisation, Australia,

• Briggs, Steven (2007). Criminology for Dummies.

• Chertoff, Michael (2008). The ideology of terrorism: Radicalism Revisited, US department of Homeland Security.

• Deci, E., & Ryan, R. (Eds.), (2002). Handbook of self-determination research. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

• Drake, C.J.M, (1998). The Role of Ideology in Terrorists' Target Selection, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 10, No.2 pp.53- 85 BY Frank Cass, London.

• Eagleton, Terry (1991) Ideology. An introduction, Verso, pg. 2

• Ellliot, Andrew J; Covington, Martin (2001). "Approach and Avoidance Motivation". Educational Psychology Review.

• Fortna, Virginia Page (2015). "Do Terrorists Win? Rebels' Use of Terrorism and Civil War Outcomes". International Organization. doi:10.1017/S0020818315000089.

• Greenmeier. Larry (2001). What Causes Someone to Act on Violent Impulses and Commit Murder?

• John T. Jost (2006), The End of the End of Ideology, New York University.

• Lepper R. Mark, Greene David and Nisbet Richard (1973). ’Undermining Children’s Intrinsic Interest with Extrinsic Reward; A test of ‘over justification’ hypothesis, “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 28, pp 129-37.

• Maehr, Martin L; Mayer, Heather (1997). "Understanding Motivation and Schooling: Where We've Been, Where We Are, and Where We Need to Go". Educational Psychology Review.

• Marina A. Barbara and Gambrell B. Linda (2008). “Intrinsic Motivation and Rewards: What Sustains Young Children’s Engagement and Text? “Literacy Research and Instruction 47 pp 9-26.

• Schacter, D.L., Gilbert, D.L. and Wegner, D.M. (2009,2011) Psychology. 2nd ed. New York: Worth.

• Seward, J. (1996). drive, incentive, and reinforcement. Psychological Review, 63, 19-203.

• Steger, Manfred B.; James, Paul (2013). "Levels of Subjective Globalization: Ideologies, Imaginaries, Ontologies". Perspectives on Global Development and Technology.

• Trueman, C.N (2015). "Why Do People Commit Crime?", The History Learning Site.

External Links[edit | edit source]

[[1]] (TEDx Talk: Scott Geller)