Some people just want to watch the world burn: the prevalence, psychology and politics of the ‘Need for Chaos’ - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Year : 2021

Some people just want to watch the world burn: the prevalence, psychology and politics of the ‘Need for Chaos’

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Timothy Gravelle
Mathias Osmundsen
Michael Bang Petersen
Jason Reifler
Thomas Scotto

Abstract

People form political attitudes to serve psychological needs. Recent research shows that some individuals have a strong desire to incite chaos when they perceive themselves to be marginalized by society. These individuals tend to see chaos as a way to invert the power structure and gain social status in the process. Analysing data drawn from large-scale representative surveys conducted in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, we identify the prevalence of Need for Chaos across Anglo-Saxon societies. Using Latent Profile Analysis, we explore whether different subtypes underlie the uni-dimensional construct and find evidence that some people may be motivated to seek out chaos because they want to rebuild society, while others enjoy destruction for its own sake. We demonstrate that chaos-seekers are not a unified political group but a divergent set of malcontents. Multiple pathways can lead individuals to ‘want to watch the world burn’. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The political brain: neurocognitive and computational mechanisms’.

Dates and versions

hal-03631460 , version 1 (05-04-2022)

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Kevin Arceneaux, Timothy Gravelle, Mathias Osmundsen, Michael Bang Petersen, Jason Reifler, et al.. Some people just want to watch the world burn: the prevalence, psychology and politics of the ‘Need for Chaos’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2021, 376 (1822), ⟨10.1098/rstb.2020.0147⟩. ⟨hal-03631460⟩
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