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Passion for a Cause, Passion for a Creed: On Ideological Passion, Identity Threat, and Extremism



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 80, Issue 4, 1146, Article first published online: 9 July 2012

  • This article is based on the first author's doctoral dissertation. Its preparation was facilitated by doctoral fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC) to the first author and by grants from both SSHRC and FQRSC to the second author.
  • The first author would like to thank her parents, Rahel and Branko Rip, and her husband, Nicolas Petrosky-Nadeau.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Blanka Rip, Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Comportement Social, Département de Psychologie, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal (QC), H3C 3P8 Canada. Email


Passion energizes and directs both peaceful and violent ideologically inspired movements. The type of ideological passion that underlies people's political or religious commitment was proposed to moderate the effect of social identity–threatening circumstances on their choice of activist tactics. Ideological passion was defined as a strong inclination toward a loved, valued, and self-defining cause, ideology, or group in which people invest considerable time and energy. Harmonious ideological passion was expected to promote peaceful activism and nonviolence partly because it is anchored in a strong and secure sense of identity—one that facilitates nondefensiveness in identity-threatening circumstances. Obsessive ideological passion, in contrast, was expected to engender hatred and aggressive extremism in identity-threatening circumstances partly because it is anchored in a strong, but insecure, sense of identity. Results from 2 studies, conducted with nationalist activists (N = 114) and devout Muslims (N = 111), supported these hypotheses. Implications for the motivation/passion and intergroup literatures are discussed.