The psychology of mass-mediated terrorism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growing use and manipulation of modern communications by terrorist organizations have led communication and terrorism scholars to reconceptualize modern terrorism within the framework of symbolic communication theory. Some applied the theater-of-terror metaphor to examine modern terrorism as an attempt to communicate messages through the use of orchestrated violence. This article examines the psychological importance of the mass media for modern terrorism, the media tactics of terrorists, and the challenges they present to media organizations and governments. Special attention is given to the use of the Internet by modern terrorists and the rhetoric of terrorist Web sites based on 8-year-long monitoring of terrorist presence on the Internet and the analysis of more than 5,000 terrorist Web sites. Finally, the article concludes with various responses of modern democratic societies to the challenge poised by media-oriented and media-savvy terrorists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Cyberterrorism
  • Internet
  • Mass media
  • Propaganda
  • Psychology
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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