Or personality traits/types?
We found that engineers are three to four times as likely as other graduates to be present among the members of violent Islamic groups in the Muslim world since the 1970sThe over-representation of engineers applies to all 13 militant groups in the sample and to all 17 nationalities, with the exception of Saudi Arabia.Our finding holds up quite well in another sample of 259 Islamic extremists who are citizens or residents of 14 western, mostly European, countries, and who have recently come to the attention of the authorities for carrying out or plotting a terrorist attack in the west. Although this sample contains far fewer people with higher education than the older members of the first group, nearly 6 out of 10 of those with higher education are engineers.We also collected data on non-Muslim extremists. We found that engineers are almost completely absent from violent left-wing groups, while they are present among violent right-wing groups in different countries.Why engineers? Everybody's first reaction is that they are recruited for their technical proficiency in bomb-making and communications technology, but there is no evidence for this. A tiny elite tends to do the technical work in these groups, and jihadist recruitment manuals focus on a personality profile rather than technical skills.
So we are left with two hypotheses: either certain social conditions impinge more on engineers than on other graduates, or engineers are more likely to have certain personality traits that make radical Islamism more attractive to them. Our best guess is that the phenomenon derives from a combination of these two factors.Full articleWe reckon that something else is going on, something at the individual level, that is, relating to cognitive traits. According to polling data, engineering professors in the US are seven times as likely to be right-wing and religious as other academics, and similar biases apply to students. In 16 other countries we investigated, engineers seem to be no more right-wing or religious than the rest of the population, but the number of engineers combining both traits is unusually high. A lot of piecemeal evidence suggests that characteristics such as greater intolerance of ambiguity, a belief that society can be made to work like clockwork, and dislike of democratic politics which involves compromise, are more common among engineers.
This thread is not about islamic terrorism, it's about all terrorism and whether or not certain personality types would be more inclined to be one.
So what are your impressions from this article?