The Importance of Perspective Taking and Respect for Dignity in Understanding Radicalization


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lisa Molix, Department of Psychology, 2007 Percival Stern Hall, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 [e-mail:].


McCauley (this issue) has presented a thought-provoking analysis of recent surveys of Muslim Americans as a means of testing the effectiveness of theories of Islamic radicalization. In this commentary we argue that by taking Muslim Americans’ perspective, researchers and policy makers can gain insight into the phenomenon of radicalization while avoiding contributing to the stigmatization of Muslims. We also offer words of caution concerning “the ‘war of ideas’ against terrorism” and the potential for heavy handed persuasion campaigns to backfire when perceived by targets as disrespectful or threatening to their human dignity or sacred values.