The Wary Guerrilla, Part I: Abstract

On September 11, 2001, Americans became tragically familiar with terrorists who use suicide bombing as a tactic. In spite of the strangeness of these acts, research suggests that suicide bombers have no observable psychopathology and are at least as economically and educationally well-off as other community members. This study interprets suicide bombing as a domain-specific form of extreme altruistic punishment. Specifically, a variation of the ultimatum game was designed which elicited a more peaceable form of extreme altruistic.

Building on Alford & Hibbing (2004)’s concept of the “Wary Cooperator,” we propose a “Wary Guerrilla” type that punishes to extents not previously demonstrated in a laboratory environment. The “Wary Cooperator” theory suggests that humans are social creatures who depend on groups for assistance in provisioning, offspring-rearing, protection against predators, and a host of other useful and even necessary tasks (Alford & Hibbing, 2006b). Wary cooperators are more concerned with avoiding being suckered than they are their own benefit (Smith, 2006). However, previous experiments have only demonstrated that wary cooperators are able to forfeit future benefits. The wary guerrillas will sacrifice current utility that they possessed before the game began.

The experiment showed that a minority of players, 17.5% of the classic wary cooperators and about 4% of players overall, are wary guerrillas. In violation of our expectations, small-town origin, family income, sex, religious feeling, and belonging to a family-like organization do not help profile wary guerrillas. Surprisingly, absolutist orientation and beliefs, along with self-reported membership in the Republican Party, are reliable guides. Other findings as explored as well.


The Wary Guerrilla, a tdaxp series
1. Abstract
2. Terrorism
3. Predictions
4. An Experiment
5. Results
6. Absolute Guerrilla
7. Those Who Cause Less Pain
8. Future Research
9. Political Implications
10. Bibliography

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