An empire state of mind: The science behind what makes patriots susceptible to becoming nationalists from Salon
July 4, 2022
Experts agree that nationalism plays on psychological impulses that do not bring out the best in human beings
“In my view, it makes more sense to explain modern day nationalism in terms of psychological factors,” Taylor wrote. “There are some clues from the psychological theory of Terror Management. This theory — which has been validated by many studies — has shown that when people are made to feel insecure and anxious by being reminded of death, they tend to become more concerned with identity values such as nationalism, status and success.”
To be clear, these sentiments do not only fuel nationalism. Arash Javanbakht, a psychiatrist from Wayne Health, further elaborated on the downsides of nationalism in a 2019 article from The Conversation:
“Tribalism is the biological loophole that many politicians have banked on for a long time: tapping into our fears and tribal instincts,” Javanbakht wrote. “Some examples are Nazism, the Ku Klux Klan, religious wars and the Dark Ages. The typical pattern is to give the other humans a different label than us, and say they are going to harm us or our resources, and to turn the other group into a concept.” Nationalism, while not the only manifestation of this tendency, is certainly one of the most prominent.