Constraints to malevolent innovation in terrorist attacks.

Michael K. Logan, Adam Damadzic, Kelsey Medeiros, Gina S. Ligon, Douglas C. Derrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Creativity has been considered the driving force of organizational change. Despite the benevolent nature of creativity, the success of organizations fostering a creative product may be used for malevolent purposes. This two-part study explores the constraints to malevolent innovation in the context of terrorism. Drawing from a large sample of terrorist attacks coded for creativity and innovation, study 1 focuses on the relationship between weapon and target characteristics of terrorist attacks and the novelty and relevance dimensions of malevolent innovation. Building on this, study 2 explores how different types of internal and external constraints manifest in terrorist attacks. In line with recent theory, the results suggest that internal constraints motivate the use of novel tactics in terrorist attacks. However, both internal and external constraints can also lead to failures, ultimately diminishing the functional relevance of the attack. Conclusions from this study extend the theory of constraints to the novel arena of terrorist research and provide a new lens from which to understand the failures and successes of terrorist attacks. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • malevolent creativity
  • malevolent innovation
  • terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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