The personality of suicide bombers

The fact that suicide bombers are usually mild-mannered members of the middle class seems counterintuitive. After all, the middle class tend to be well-educated, well-behaved, good family membersnothing like the bloodthirsty tough guys or criminals we imagine when we think of terrorists. They bear little resemblance to English football hooligans or rabble-rousers. No other form of violence has a higher proportion of females than suicide bombers, even though females are usually more conformist than males.

Why is this so? I suggest it is because suicide bombing is the easiest form of violence for conventional middle-class people to carry out, if they decide to commit violence at all.

From an article from 2008 by the great Randall Collins. Still relevant, exposing many myths about violent behavior which are still commonly accepted by many people, including many in the media.

Clandestine, confrontation-avoiding violence such as suicide bombing is a fourth pathway around confrontational tension. It succeeds only because the attacker is good at pretending that he or she is not threatening at all. People accustomed to the typical macho forms of violence are not good at this; gang members would make lousy suicide bombers. But mild-mannered middle-class people are ideal for it. Since they are not confrontational by nature, they do not have to control a blustering or threatening demeanor that would warn their victims. Self-directed introverts, they do not need to hear cheering as they stalk their prey. Middle-class culture is especially accommodative, adept at maintaining a smooth surface of conventionality. Whatever our private feelings, we learn not to express them on the job, in social situations, or in public. This is good training for carrying a bomb under ones clothing until the target is so close that massive damage is certain.