Bryn Mawr Psychology Professor Clark McCauley, whose recent research has focused on the process of radicalization, was recently quoted in an article that appeared on the website of Salt Lake City, Utah, television station KUTV. The article, about Mohammad Abdulazeez, who shot and killed four Marines and a Navy sailor at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, looks into the common characteristics of mass killers and lone wolf terrorists.
From the article:
Clark McCauley, co-director of the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, emphasized that too many details are still unknown to reach any definite conclusions about Abdulazeez, but what is known so far does seem to fit a certain profile.
McCauley said one of the common characteristics of lone wolf killers that he has studied is that many have weapons experience and are socially disconnected and stressed with a psychological disorder, what he terms a “disconnected/disordered profile.”
“People who are already feeling tendencies toward depression, it just feels like the whole world is caving in on you and there’s nothing to lose,” he said.
This profile is particularly common among school shooters, but he said some people who are deemed terrorists because they say something political before their crimes are also driven by this psychology.
Like Navarro, McCauley said one of the difficulties is separating the people who fit this general profile and are capable of committing mass violence from others who are just depressed and disconnected.
“It seems like there’s a profile when you look backwards…” he cautioned. “What we don’t know is how many people fit the profile and don’t do anything violent.”
McCauley’s research interests include stereotypes, group dynamics, intergroup conflict, and the psychological foundations of genocide and terrorism. He is a consultant and reviewer for the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation for research on dominance, aggression, and violence, and a principal investigator of the National Consortium for Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (NC-START). With Dan Chirot, he is author of Why Not Kill Them All? The Logic of Mass Political Murder and Finding Ways of Avoiding it. With Sophia Moskalenko, he is author of Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us. He is founding editor of the journal Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict. McCauley received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970.