Book review: Extremism and the Psychology of Uncertainty.

Book review: M.A. Hogg, D.L. Blaylock (eds)., (2012). Extremism and the Psychology of Uncertainty. Wiley-Blackwell.

Dr. Thalia Magioglou

EPoPs/Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Paris and Centre Edgar Morin/IIAC/ EHESS

Extremism and the Psychology of Uncertainty is addressing a very important question: whether an individual or collective feeling of uncertainty might cause extremism. And the answer is yes.  The authors examine major theoretical perspectives in social psychology and apply them in concrete research fields, investigating the role of uncertainty ay different levels:  between individuals and groups, as well as between groups and society.  A book I will definitely use.

The editors in the preface underline also directions for future research: uncertainty is a problematic construct associated to meaning, threat and anxiety (in p. xxiii). What is the focus of uncertainty and finally its resolution comes as a group or individual process? Extremism, another problematic construct, is considered as something personally and socially harmful, related to social exclusion and violence.

Dialogue with the other social sciences such as history and sociology could offer insights as to the causes of uncertainty. Creativity research and tolerance to “ambiguity” could be considered as the positive side of “uncertainty”. Certainty can also be found in various forms of domination, encouraged by authoritarian systems and exploitation and finally, extremism. How could we arrive to “constructive ideologies” (Staub in this book) and creativity instead of cognitive closure and violence?

 


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