Richard Davis

Richard Davis
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Politics and International Relations

About

17
Publications
8,220
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575
Citations
Citations since 2016
12 Research Items
401 Citations
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Publications

Publications (17)
Conference Paper
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How a State actor manipulates cognitive and cultural biases to influence important political and policy decisions by other States.
Article
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Is terrorism just another form of criminal activity, as many nations' justice systems assume? We offer an initial answer using face-to-face interviews and structured surveys in thirty-five Spanish prisons. Recent theories of extreme sacrifice inform this direct observational and comparative study. Islamist terrorists display levels of self-sacrific...
Article
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Significance Despite intermittent interest in and evidence of the importance of nonmaterial factors in war and other extreme forms of intergroup conflict, material factors such as optimal use of physical strength, manpower, and firepower remain the dominant concerns of US and allied military training, decision-making, and related academic literatur...
Article
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Violent intergroup conflicts are often motivated by commitments to abstract ideals such as god or nation, so-called ‘sacred’ values that are insensitive to material trade-offs. There is scant knowledge of how the brain processes costly sacrifices for such cherished causes. We studied willingness to fight and die for sacred values using fMRI in Barc...
Article
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Willingness to fight and die (WFD) has been developed as a measure to capture willingness to incur costly sacrifices for the sake of a greater cause in the context of entrenched conflict. WFD measures have been repeatedly used in field studies, including studies on the battlefield, although their neurofunctional correlates remain unexplored. Our ai...
Article
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Violent extremism is often explicitly motivated by commitment to abstract ideals such as the nation or divine law – so-called “sacred” values that are relatively insensitive to material incentives and define our primary reference groups. Moreover, extreme pro-group behavior seems to intensify after social exclusion. This fMRI study explores underly...
Article
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CTC SENTINEL 15 After expulsion of Islamic State forces from Mosul, Iraq's government declared the country "fully liberated" and the Islamic State "defeated." But field interviews and non-threatening psychological experiments with young Sunni Arab men from the Mosul area indicate that the Islamic State may have lost its "caliphate," but not necessa...
Article
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Frontline investigations with fighters against the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS), combined with multiple online studies, address willingness to fight and die in intergroup conflict. The general focus is on non-utilitarian aspects of human conflict, which combatants themselves deem ‘sacred’ or ‘spiritual’, whether secular or religious. Here we invest...
Article
Despite intense efforts by intelligence agencies and countless conferences, articles and books, fundamental aspects of terrorism remain unclear: what identifies terrorists before they act; how do they radicalize; what motivates their violence; when do they act; what countermeasures are most effective? These efforts have underperformed in part becau...
Book
This book offers a new understanding of the nature of power-seeking insurgent groups by empirically examining the use of violence by Hamas in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Though Hamas has learned to ride the tides of popular support, it remains suspended between its quest to achieve the values of its ardent supporters (reclamation of land thro...
Article
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We explore how Darwinian notions of moral virtue and parochial altruism may relate to the emerging cognitive framework of the devoted actor who undertakes extreme actions in defense of group values. After a brief discussion of the theoretical framework, we present exploratory data resulting from interviews of 62 Lebanese individuals of varying reli...
Article
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"The contents of this paper reflect some of the work that Dr. Cabayan and his colleagues are doing to help us understand and comprehend this “intangible power” across a unique enterprise of academicians, scientists, policy intellectuals, current and former Foreign Service, military, and intelligence professionals. Most importantly, their efforts to...
Article
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Resolution of quarrels arising from conflicting sacred values, as in the Middle East, may require concessions that acknowledge the opposition's core concerns.
Article
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A Scientific Approach The facts detailed in this briefing are the results of scientific exploration of terror networks and sacred values and their association to political violence. The research is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFSOR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Article
Full-text available
Resolution of quarrels arising from conflicting sacred values, as in the Middle East, may require concessions that acknowledge the opposition's core concerns.

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Extreme forms of violence are not a new phenomenon. However, the increased number of acts of terrorism in the name of strong held values and beliefs has become a worldwide growing concern. Thus, one the most crucial challenges that science faces is to understand how seemingly unremarkable and ordinary individuals progress towards extreme forms of violence. There have been many efforts to understand why and how somebody can choose to commit acts of extreme violence and atrocities, sometimes deliberately conducted to maximize visibility and media attention. These studies are based on social, demographic, economic or situational elements. However, even though all these factors must be at work, there is also a general agreement that it is paramount to incorporate evidence from the biological and cognitive sciences, taking advantage of new and powerful tools such as neuroimaging techniques. Since radicalization involves a complex network of elements, the study of the psychological and neural vectors underlying the pathways leading to radicalization is necessary and timely. There is now an impressive track of studies identifying the neural mechanisms of social and moral cognition that has provided evidence of the need of neurocognitive data to understand the psychological mechanisms that mediate political beliefs. However, there are still many issues that must be addressed. Among other questions, we need a more subtle and rich characterization of the neural mechanisms underlying the cognitive and affective psychological processes that underpin group dynamics, processing of norms and values and narrative comprehension and production. The interaction of individual factors (for instance, “the moral agent” or “identity fusion”) with those of group dynamics (for example, “radicalized networks”, or “social vulnerability”) offers an innovative and incisive way to see how psychological, socio-economic and cultural vectors intermingle to engender radicalism in contemporary societies. In addition, we need studies with a more ecological approach, using much more diversified populations as well as targeting radical individuals.