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Title:The rebellious mind: explaining which people become rebels
Author(s):Townsen, Ashly Adam
Director of Research:Diehl, Paul F.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Diehl, Paul F.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Vasquez, John; Mondak, Jeff; Bowers, Jake
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Conflict scholarship has developed a complex understanding of how socio-economic factors influence the individual choice to join a rebel group, but conflict scholarship also lacks progress an understanding of how an individual’s predispositions toward specific behaviors influence this decision. This dissertation investigates which individual predispositions are likely to influence the decision to join a rebel group. In examining these predispositions, I seek to also answer whether the same predispositions are likely to influence the behavior or rebel group members. While the behavioral predispositions are likely to be numerous, I focus on variation in personality traits and specifically on an individual’s level of trait aggression. I argue that personality traits are stable predictors of behavior and likely to influence joining behavior by placing personality trait variation in the broader context of the decision to join a rebel group. I find that variation in trait aggression plays an important role in the individual decision to join a rebel group and that trait aggression also influences the way individuals perform in a commonly used rational choice game. Finally, I argue that studying personality traits is important outside the civil war context and find that aggression also predicts which individuals are likely to join a traditional state military. The theoretical and empirical contributions of this project show that conflict participation models that take individual differences seriously better represent the decision making process.
Issue Date:2015-12-02
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Ashly Townsen
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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