Lone wolf terrorism

Phillips, Peter J. (2011) Lone wolf terrorism. Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 17 (1). pp. 1-29. ISSN 1079-2457

Text (Published Version)

Download (283kB) | Preview


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the insights that might be generated into the nature of 'lone wolf terrorism' through the application of economic analysis. Orthodox approaches, particularly (standard) expected utility analysis and game theoretical analysis, are discussed. These tools prove useful in developing preliminary or 'first order' insights. The lone wolf terrorist exhibits a number of idiosyncrasies that present challenges to both economic analysis and government security policy. An alternative analytical framework is constructed wherein a terroristic agent makes choices on the basis of a preference ordering constructed over two moments of the distribution (measured in terms of fatalities generated by terrorist attacks). Seven predictions are yielded from the mean-variance theoretical framework and numerical estimates are computed as preliminary steps towards the full exploration of the implications of the framework. Most importantly, depending on their level of risk aversion (or risk seeking behaviour), lone wolves are expected to predominantly choose assassination, armed attack, bombing, hostage taking or unconventional attacks. Furthermore, within a range of between one and two standard deviations from the mean, it is possible that the quadratic utility function will reach a maximum. Following attacks of a certain magnitude (in terms of fatalities), it might be expected that the lone wolf will withdraw from activity for a period of time. This analytical approach may assist governments and security agencies facing the threat of lone wolf terrorism.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 18630
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business and Law - School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (1 Jan 2011 - 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business and Law - School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (1 Jan 2011 - 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2011 09:15
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2018 06:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: lone wolf terrorism; economic analysis; expected utility; game theory; security; mean-variance; assassination; armed attack; bombing; hostage taking
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1702 Cognitive Sciences > 170202 Decision Making
14 Economics > 1401 Economic Theory > 140104 Microeconomic Theory
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170110 Psychological Methodology, Design and Analysis
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5204 Cognitive and computational psychology > 520402 Decision making
38 ECONOMICS > 3803 Economic theory > 380304 Microeconomic theory
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520105 Psychological methodology, design and analysis
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): A Defence > 81 Defence > 8101 Defence > 810107 National Security
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1554-8597.1207
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/18630

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only