The deferral of attacks: SP/A theory as a model of terrorist choice when losses are inevitable

Phillips, Peter J. and Pohl, Gabriela (2018) The deferral of attacks: SP/A theory as a model of terrorist choice when losses are inevitable. Open Economics, 1 (1). pp. 71-85. ISSN 2451-3458

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When a terrorist group’s aspirations far exceed the outcomes that can be expected to result from any of the available attack methods, an outcome below the terrorist group’s aspiration level is inevitable. A primary prediction of SP/A theory when applied to the study of terrorist behaviour is that when losses are inevitable the terrorist group will be risk averse and inclined to defer further action until expected outcomes improve, new attack method innovations are developed or the memory of the event that shaped aspirations has faded sufficiently that the aspiration level can be ‘reset’. This complements existing predictions of loss aversion and risk seeking behaviour over the domain of avoidable losses and provides a starting point for developing explanations for patterns of behaviour that are observed in the terrorism context, including pauses in violence, even during brutality contests, and time-lags between terrorist attacks.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Open Access. © 2018 Peter J. Phillips, Gabriela Pohl, published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Commerce
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2018 04:09
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2018 05:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: SP/A theory, terrorist behaviour, risk, uncertainty, inevitable losses, aspiration, brutality, violence, contests, attacks, avoidable losses
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1702 Cognitive Sciences > 170202 Decision Making
16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160604 Defence Studies
16 Studies in Human Society > 1602 Criminology > 160201 Causes and Prevention of Crime
14 Economics > 1401 Economic Theory > 140104 Microeconomic Theory
Socio-Economic Objective: A Defence > 81 Defence > 8101 Defence > 810107 National Security
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1515/openec-2018-0001

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