Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Religious fundamentalism has been found to predict endorsement of aggressive counterterrorism techniques, such as the use of severe interrogations and pre-emptive military attacks (e.g. Barnes, Brown & Osterman, 2012). The present study tested whether a perceived increase in secularism constitutes a psychological threat to American religious fundamentalists, and thus increases endorsement of such counterterrorism tactics. Replicating previous research, religious fundamentalism was found to positively predict endorsement of aggressive counterterrorism techniques, even when controlling for ideology and party identification. Contrary to hypothesis, the secularism prime had no effect. An unpredicted finding of this study was that religious fundamentalism only related to the counterterrorism attitudes of political experts, not political novices. This moderation via expertise suggests that, rather than having a direct psychological effect (such as out-group aggression), fundamentalism's relationship to such attitudes emerges through the application of political knowledge.

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