Four dot points to end the chapter

  • • Overconfidence is a fairly ubiquitous personality trait.
  • • Overconfidence can produce risk seeking behaviour and, more importantly, too much risky activity (where ‘too much’ is activity that actually reduces expected payoffs).
  • • Overconfident terrorist groups engage in too much terrorism and have lower payoffs per action. However, overconfidence does have advantages, including first mover advantages as well as a kind of bluffing that enables the overconfident decision-maker to capture more resources than he otherwise would.
  • • There are gender differences in overconfidence. Women are less overconfident than men. While female terrorists might engage in less terrorist activity, their relative lack of overconfidence may produce higher payoffs per attack.


  • 1 Lamberson (2016, p.201).
  • 2 There is some debate about the groups motivations and structure. See, for example, Grabiner and Grabiner (1982, p.342) who state that no ‘secret society’ was ever found and no ‘racial motivation’ was ever proven.
  • 3 Women have sometimes constituted around one-third of the membership of some terrorist groups.There are some prominent examples, including Germany’s RAF and 2nd ofjune Movement. Rote Zora was almost exclusively female (Bloom 2010, p.91).
  • 4 This is related to the clustering illusion (Frith & Frith 1972; Gilovich 1991) and ‘hot hand’fallacy (Kahneman &Tversky 1972) in which people see patterns in purely random phenomena.
  • 5 Kaiser et al. (2004) found that American students who held the strongest beliefs in a just world before 9/11 held the strongest desire for revenge following the terrorist attacks.


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