Forlorn and Fervent: Religious Radicalization of the Meek
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Compensatory Control Theory posits that the belief in an orderly and willed world that is under the control of external or personal forces is an innate human need, and people will use whatever sources of control are at their disposable to defend that belief. This thesis extends Compensatory Control theory by proposing external and personal sources of control are not entirely substitutable; rather they are disposition-dependent. This thesis specifically assessed whether participants with at least some forms of low but not high dispositional personal control would react with religious zeal following threat to external sources of control. Across two studies participants were measured for dispositional personal control and randomly assigned to an external control threat or no-threat condition. In Study 1, an unstable economic forecast heightened external control religious zeal among participants with low personal control dispositions. In Study 2, reflecting on a poor relationship heightened religious zeal on an independent religious zeal measure. These results help explain why different life events can trigger religious extremism for different types of people.