Comparative Study of Religious Fundamentalism, Developmental Idealism, Values and Value Change in the Middle East

Project Details

Investigators: Mansoor Moaddel, PI, Arland Thornton, Co-PI, Stuart Karabenick, Consultant, Linda Young-DeMarco, Project Manager, Julie de Jong, Research Associate.

Narrative Description:

This study will provide invaluable insights into the mechanisms involved in the rise of religious fundamentalism and values change. Research driven by the latest theories of human behavior will carry pragmatic solutions to some of the most complex problems related to peace and national security. To give one prominent example, our first comprehensive values survey of Iraqis in 2004 revealed two important facts about the Sunnis: (1) more Sunnis are supportive of secular politics than the Shi’is; and (2) a much larger portion of the Sunnis felt powerless, insecure, and pessimistic about the future than the Shi’is or the Kurds. These features were further enhanced in 2006 when the second survey was carried out. These findings had two immediate policy implications. First, given their support for secular politics, the Sunnis were a potential U.S. ally against al-Qaeda. Second, given their high level of psychological stress, military actions against the Sunni insurgents would contribute to the same mental state that prompted them toward political violence. The willingness of the Sunni groups and former insurgents to ally with the U.S. supported our analysis. That our data showed these as well as the trend among Iraqis toward secular politics and national identity at the time of heightened Sunni insurgency and religious violence demonstrates the power of the data in forecasting change. An extensive set of data from several Islamic countries, the interdisciplinary approach that is employed in this study, and our past research on revolution, conflict, violence, cultural change, comparative history, and values surveys—all provide the necessary ingredients for understanding patterns of religious fundamentalism and political beliefs and values.

The present study will deliver three scientific products that may be indispensable for peace and our national security: an analysis of cross-national variations in fundamentalism and trends in values in the seven countries, providing insights into the groups in these countries that may be sympathetic to religious extremism and political violence and the likelihood of change in the population from this layer to the layers who are moderate or sympathetic to secular politics; a series of social, cultural, and psychological indicators that are useful in forecasting trends in values; a large data-set on major areas of human concern from religion to culture, socioeconomic, political, and international relations that is useful for social-scientific study of Middle Eastern countries.

Coverage: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria.

Sponsor: Eastern Michigan University, University of Michigan, Office of Naval Research, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, University of Göttingen.

Type Detail Format Size
QuestionnaireData Collection Questionnaire (English in Arabic countries)  PDF211K
QuestionnaireData Collection Questionnaire (Arabic)  PDF548K
QuestionnaireData Collection Questionnaire (Pushtoo)  PDF271K
QuestionnaireData Collection Questionnaire (Urdu)  PDF720K
QuestionnaireData Collection Questionnaire (Turkish)  PDF773K
QuestionnaireData Collection Questionnaire (English in Turkey)  PDF206K
DatasetFinal Data Collection Dataset (English)  SAS34149K
DatasetFinal Data Collection Dataset (English)  STATA16965K
DatasetFinal Data Collection Dataset (English)  SPSS14626K
CodebookFinal Data Collection Codebook (English)  PDF1142K
Type Detail Format Size