Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pleasurable report

Many of the assignments or reports submitted by my students contribute to the increasing grayness of my hair. However, there are a few that brings joy and pleasure to the otherwise challenging task of marking the reports. Here is one excellent work produced by a student. Idlan Zahari had kindly agreed for me to share his work. I've done minor changes to the first paragraph of his work. Some formatting changes had also been applied by blogger when I copy-pasted his proposal here. 

The Relationship between Forgiveness and Religiously Motivated Violence

Muhammad Idlan Afiq Bin Mohamad Zahari
PSYC 4120 Psychology of Religion, Semester 1, 2016/2017

Course Instructor: Dr. Harris Shah Abdul Hamid
Department of Psychology
International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)

The relationship between forgiveness and religiously motivated violence

Religiously motivated violence have been on the rise lately or at least more apparent on today’s media. According to Finke and Harris (2012, p. 17), religiously motivated violence can be define as ‘any act of violence to persons or property motivated by the religious belief or profession of the perpetrator or victim’. Since its nature of death and violence, there should be a research interest looking at its causes and effects especially in the realm of human behaviour and mental processes. ‘The Psychology of Contemporary Religious Violence’ by Jones (2013) has covered many areas on this type of violence, from factors to possible implications for practice; however, it has highlighted one interesting view on forgiveness and religious motivated violence. This paper would examine further the relationship between the two. Therefore, the present paper will discuss a possible research by focusing on (a) Research Problem Statement, (b) Justification of Proposed Research, (c) Research Objective, (d) Hypothesis/ Expected Findings. 

Research Problem Statement
Juergensmeyer (2003) and Miller (2007) highlighted in their studies that there have been an increase in violence and terrorism in the past decade, suggesting more positive attitude towards violence. While there have been attempt for solutions for religious motivated violence, the solutions proposed so far have required a grand scale intervention, such as decrease in societal restrictions on religion and religious social movement (Finke & Harris, 2012) which highlighted societal restrictions on religion have positive direct effect on violence. These interventions require harsh, national to global level policy making as by O’Brien (1985). Yet, Miller (2007) highlighted that there are no best policy in countering such acts of violence. Also, macro level intervention take too long to be establish and may not be able to be implemented on time and cost too many resources. While it is has been proven that religiously motivated violence is multidimensional issue with various factors (Jones, 2013), there could be a micro level intervention that could be develop to help curb such violence. Therefore, there is an urgent need to not only understand the reasons behind these horrible acts but also look at how to decrease attitude towards violence, in hopes to eradicate religious motivated violence from a micro level. If we continue to ignore these acts of violence, especially in curbing positive attitude towards violence, many more unnecessary deaths and loss could happen, and violence may become a new norm.

If we were to look at these violence acts as an extreme form of intergroup conflict, forgiveness could be used to help reconcile such differences (Jones, 2013). Forgiveness according to Staub, Pearlman, Gubin and Hagengimana (2005, p.301) is ‘letting go of anger and the desire for revenge’ and their study further showed that through forgiveness, violence is able to be prevented and healing can better occur. Forgiveness can also play a mediating role in improving ethnopolitical conflict (Myers, Hewstone & Cairns, 2009), which is root cause to many terrorism acts. Since religiously motivated violence behave similarly to ethnopolitical violence, and both are attacking people who may have offend them due to threat to their sacred (Jones, 2013), forgiveness, which require overcoming resentment to the offender may reduce act of violence (Rye, Loiacono, Folck, Olszewski, Heim, & Madia, 2001). While there have been a lot of studies on forgiveness (Jones, 2013; McCullough, Pargament & Thoresen, 2000), little or no research found for forgiveness and religious motivated violence, showed that more research needs to be done to truly understand religious motivated violence. 

Research Justification
According to Finke and Harris (2012, p. 17), religious-motivated violence has been coded as ‘widespread’ in 27 percent of all countries. In most countries, there are forms of religious violence, ranging from physical assault, torture or death (Finke & Harris, 2012). Therefore, the first justification is for such look for relationship between forgiveness and attitude towards violence, is that religious-motivated violence has become almost common. 

Secondly, there is still lack of understanding on the topic of religious motivated violence. While the laymen may assume religious motivated violence stemmed from extremism in religion, Waller highlighted four possible factors such as genetic predispositions, cultural belief system, culture of cruelty and social death (as cited in Jones, 2013). Even so, there are many other theories in explaining factors of this type of violence as described by Jones (2013), such as Kohut’s violence due to threat to self or narcissistic rage and lack of empathy, showing the complexity of this type of violence. The complexity of religious motivated violence, calls for a more research on this area, especially to avoid mismanagement in decreasing violence. As stated also, little or no research found for forgiveness and religious motivated violence which highlight a need to look at this relationship even more.

As mentioned above, there are more interventions that focused on macro level intervention for religious violence instead of micro level. There is a need for micro level intervention as it allows positive impact on behaviours (Luthans, Avey, Avolio, Norman, & Combs, 2006). Luthans and colleagues (2006) also mentioned how micro-level interventions are more directly focused in the persons one’s actual self and possible self, therefore, suggesting that micro level or personal based intervention could help the individuals of a terrorist group. Researching on this level of intervention or relationship also allows more personal preventive measure that was somehow failed to be capture by the current strategy against terrorism (O’Brien, 1985).

Research Objective
Therefore, to address the gaps, this study aims to explore the relationship between forgiveness and religious motivated violence. This possible relationship has been highlighted by Jones (2013) as promising area of research and if found exist, may play a role in a possible micro-level intervention to decrease religious motivated violence. Conceptually, forgiveness similarly defined as previously mentioned is overcoming resentment to the offender. Operationally, it would be resulting scores of participants on the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (Subkoviak, Enright,Wu, Gassin, Freedman, Olson & Sarinopoulos, 1995).  Religiously motivated violence in this possible research would look at the favourableness of individuals’ evaluations of violence in general due to religious motivation. The reason to look at religious motivated violence from attitude towards violence perspective is that there is an assumption that higher or positive attitude towards violence may increase violence (Carnagey, & Anderson, 2007; Velicer, Huckel, & Hansen, 1989). Operationally, it would be the resulting scores of participants on an adapted version Revised Attitudes towards Violence Scale (Anderson, Benjamin, Wood & Bonacci, 2006).

While there is little to no research have been found on forgiveness and religiously motivated violence, from Jones’s writings (2013) and research of forgiveness on reconciling conflicts (Myers, Hewstone & Cairns, 2009), the hypothesis of this study is there is significant negative relationship between forgiveness and religious motivated violence. The higher the likelihood to forgive, the lower the attitude towards religiously motivated violence.

References [somehow blogger removed the italics and indentation formatting in the references below. I don't bother adding the italics]

Anderson, C. A., Benjamin, A. J., Wood, P. K., & Bonacci, A. M. (2006). Development and testing of the Velicer attitudes toward violence scale: Evidence for a four‐factor model. Aggressive Behavior, 32(2), 122-136.
Carnagey, N. L., & Anderson, C. A. (2007). Changes in attitudes towards war and violence after September 11, 2001. Aggressive Behavior, 33(2), 118-129.
Finke, R., & Harris, J. (2012). Wars and rumors of wars: Explaining religiously motivated violence. Religion, Politics, Society and The State, 53-71.
Jones, J. W. (2013). The psychology of contemporary religious violence: A multidimensional approach. APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality (Vol 2): An Applied Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 2, 355–370. doi:10.1037/14046-018
Juergensmeyer, M. (2003). The religious roots of contemporary terrorism. The New Global Terrorism: Characteristics, Causes, Controls, 185-193.
Luthans, F., Avey, J. B., Avolio, B. J., Norman, S. M., & Combs, G. M. (2006). Psychological capital development: toward a micro‐intervention. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27(3), 387-393.
Miller, G. D. (2007). Confronting terrorisms: Group motivation and successful state policies. Terrorism and Political Violence, 19(3), 331-350.
Myers, E., Hewstone, M., & Cairns, E. (2009). Impact of conflict on mental health in Northern Ireland: The mediating role of intergroup forgiveness and collective guilt. Political Psychology, 30(2), 269-290.
O’Brien, W. (1985). Counterterrorism: Lessons from Israel. Strategic Review, 13(4), 32-44.
McCullough, M. E., Pargament, K. I., & Thoresen, C. E. (2000). The frontier of forgiveness. Forgiveness: Theory, Research and Practice, 299-319.
Rye, M. S., Loiacono, D. M., Folck, C. D., Olszewski, B. T., Heim, T. A., & Madia, B. P. (2001). Evaluation of the psychometric properties of two forgiveness scales. Current Psychology, 20(3), 260-277.
Staub, E., Pearlman, L. A., Gubin, A., & Hagengimana, A. (2005). Healing, reconciliation, forgiving and the prevention of violence after genocide or mass killing: An intervention and its experimental evaluation in Rwanda. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24(3), 297.
Subkoviak, M. J., Enright, R. D., Wu, C., Gassin, E. A., Freedman, S., Olson, L. M., & Sarinopoulos, I. (1995). Measuring interpersonal forgiveness in late adolescence and middle adulthood. Journal of Adolescence, 18, 641–655
Velicer, W. F., Huckel, L. H., & Hansen, C. E. (1989). A measurement model for measuring attitudes toward violence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 15(3), 349-364.

No comments: