to Eidelson (2003), there are five categories or beliefs that are the root of
what propels conflict in society being; superiority, injustice, vulnerability,
distrust, and helplessness. These domains can be viewed as the negative
attributes that conflict encompasses. They differ when thought on the
individual level and when thought in a group level. The issue occurs when these
domains go beyond the interpersonal and collective natures of society. These domains
tie in closely with in-group bias and out-group discrimination, it is important
to note that individual convictions occur when a sense of belonging occurs
toward a certain group. This helps stimulate discrimination in one’s thoughts towards
others even though at some times it can be unknowingly created.

To truly understand why these beliefs,
propel and maintain conflict it is crucial to understand the five categories of
superiority, injustice, vulnerability, distrust, and helplessness.

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at the individual level revolves around the undying belief that an individual
is more important than others. At a group level it is shared within a group
which helps perpetuate the belief amongst group members. Injustice revolves
around the belief that others will mistreat you, and that specific mistreatment
is tied to the belief that all others with the same characteristics will
mistreat you as well. At a group level the view is further increased which
causes significant and legitimate blame to be placed on others. The perceived
mistreatment increases the sense of identity that a group has.  Vulnerability refers to the belief that
everyone can be harmed and that anyone is able to inflict harm on them. This plays
a part on the group level because a specific group may feel they are more
susceptible to harm because their group may be discriminated against. Distrust
is the belief that no one can be trusted or that others may be ill willed toward
them. On a group level the belief focuses on the beliefs and misconceptions
that others have toward their group.  Helplessness refers to an individual’s beliefs
that an individual is lacking the ability to help themselves out of a situation
or to achieve a goal. In a group view helplessness refers to a groups mindset
about their powerlessness situation in society.

This is further reinforced by Staub
(2013), when the author makes reference to the conditions that perpetuate
violence which are, economic deterioration, political conflict and
disorganization. These factors create a period where genocide can more easily
occur because groups become devalued and personal ideologies change. The important
factor is that they have an impact on groups of people, these factors affect
how people communicate which in turn affects human relations. Staub states that
difficult life conditions tend to create chaos, especially in the established
societies of the modern world. Needs for security, identity and autonomy rule
over needs of others. Difficult life conditions cause psychological effects
which cause groups to place blame on others not within their own in-groups. The
uncertainty within their own lives cause them to have a psychological feel of
insecurity which causes conflicts.

In an article explaining how ordinary
people go from their non-violent lives to committing mass killings James Waller
(2006), explains that wars have erupted wherever human beings have been
present. The nature of a collective tends to bring out tendencies that are
negative to the human mind. The author explains that groups tend to be selfish,
uncaring, and can escalate their treatment of others to be brutal and sometimes
violent. Research has shown within groups it is easier to be manipulated, as we
become more competitive and are more readily able to exploit others especially
on a group level. It is clear to see that some of these beliefs create a
collective mindset within groups.

To understand how these beliefs can
justify terror Moghaddam (2005), explains that there is path in which terrorism
is developed. The author refers to this path as a staircase in which the
process is implemented. What is important to note about this is that there is a
specific path that leads groups into implementing terroristic tactics. The path
begins from the individual’s belief that there are options to fight unfair
treatment in order to fight for personal and social mobility. The next step is
to displace the aggression that an individual, and in terrorism this is usually
down outside their in-group. The third floor is the moral engagement of a group,
in regards to terrorism this is where they tie in morality into justifying the
struggle that their group is fighting for. Recruitment occurs at this stage
because the morality of the situation is what drives people to join the
movement. The next floor is legitimizing the activities of the terrorist group
as an official organization. This helps individuals within these organizations
justify their actions and helps them sidestep the blame they inflict on
innocent individuals which is the fifth step. They bypass the guilt by labeling
their victims as enemies of their organization therefore making it okay to harm

In conclusion it is clear to see how
terrorism stems from individual core beliefs that are perpetuated at the group
level. This causes the line to be blurred especially when morality becomes not
a factor to inhibit behaviors but as a factor that justifies behaviors. A good
way to combat this mindset is to educate individuals on how these beliefs
prompt violence and conflict. If an understanding were to be created about how
these processes work, maybe people would be able to not fall victim to these
beliefs. Understanding the perceived mistreatment of groups would go far in
combating terrorism because it would help relieve the psychological insecurity
felt by specific groups.