Discussions that are based on religious understanding and aimed at reducing terrorists' hostility have been used as a central part of terrorist deradicalization programs in many countries where acts of Islamic terrorism are prevalent. Currently, various psychological approaches such as presenting social support and providing counseling sessions are being applied alongside religious discussions. Observers of these programs have reported benefits and positive responses to the psychological approaches, but there is still a lack of empirical evidence confirming this. In the current study, we examine the effects of two psychological interventions—emotional expression training and cognitive flexibility training—in predicting detainees’ acceptance of the idea of democratic life. We investigated the observational records taken during the psychological interventions and religious discussions. Results showed no main effect of emotional expression and cognitive flexibility in predicting one’s acceptance of democratic civil life, but there was a significant interaction between the two predictors. Among those who scored high in cognitive flexibility, detainees who scored also high in emotional expression were significantly more agreeable towards the state’s sovereignty over belief in an Islamic caliphate during religious discussions. Our findings suggest that psychological interventions do indeed offer benefits for detainees’ deradicalization programs.
- psychological intervention