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Behavior therapy is relevant not just to the needs of victims of terrorism, but also to the understanding and modification of psychological processes that lead to the perpetration of terrorist acts. A key process of this kind is prejudice. In this paper, human prejudice is defined as the objectification and dehumanization of people as a result of their participation in evaluative verbal categories. Prejudice is difficult to deal with because: 1) The same verbal processes that give rise to prejudice are massively reinforced in dealing with the external environment; 2) Virtually all cultures openly amplify this process with stigmatized groups; 3) Humans are historical beings and verbal/cognitive networks once formed tend to maintain themselves; and 4) Many of the things humans do to change or eliminate undesirable verbal categorical processes are either inert or prone to making these processes more resistant to change. Mindfulness, cognitive defusion, acceptance, and valued action are suggested as alternative methods of fighting the war behavior therapy needs to help human society win: not just a war on terrorism, but a war on prejudice.


“NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Hayes, S. C., Niccolls, R., Masuda, A., & Rye, A. (2002). Prejudice, terrorism, and behavior therapy. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9, 296-301.

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