The purpose of the current study was to develop a scale to evaluate students’ attitudes towards
fanaticism. In order to do this, the researcher composed a questionnaire of 64 items. The
format of the questionnaire corresponded to the five-point Likert Scale: 1 strongly agree; 2
agree; 3 slightly agree; 4 strongly disagree; and 5 disagree. The research sample consisted of
23 undergraduate students from the University of Leicester. The research tool was an online
questionnaire distributed through the.EPR system. Participants completed the questionnaire in
return for course credit. Results of statistical analysis, obtained through the use of Statistical
Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), were as follows. The internal reliability (Cronbach’s
Alpha) of the final structure of the scale, which consisted of 20 items, was calculated to be
α=.834. Statistical analysis (principal components analysis, orthogonal approach, Varimax
method) resulted in the following three factors: factor 1,“Fanaticism and social security” (8
items highly loaded on this factor); factor 2, “Religious fanaticism” (9 items highly loaded on
this factor); factor 3, “Fanaticism and absolute views” (3 items highly loaded on this factor).
These three factors explained 52.516% of the variance.
Fanaticism is an internal feeling which causes an individual to believe that his/her
opinions and ideas are permanently on the right side of truth. Fanatics simply do not accept
the need for debate and view people with different opinions to their own as presenting a threat
to their values and beliefs. Fanatical beliefs can result in discrimination and sometimes
aggressive behaviour towards people who hold alternative opinions and beliefs.
Fanaticism is a serious social and psychological issue which could present a significant
risk to the community: “Fanatical beliefs may possibly lead to a nuclear holocaust in the not-
too-distant future” (Ellis, 1986). Investigating intolerance and fanaticism from a
psychological and social standpoint using scientific research could help to identify some of
the causal factors related to these phenomena. Ultimately, this research could help to achieve
recognition accuracy ‘More effective recognition and a clearer understanding of fanaticism,
thereby making it easier to deal with and, potentially, reducing its impact on society.
Fanaticism is one of the most prevalent social and psychological phenomena in the
world today. There has been no community that has not been affected by some form of
fanaticism. Although the phenomenon of fanaticism is linked to various political and religious
ideas and beliefs, it can manifest in many different areas of human activity. Marimaa (2011)
pointed out that fanaticism is a universal phenomenon which can appear in any sphere of
A fanatic is someone who holds certain views or ideas that he or she believes to be
absolutely true; doubts are never entertained. Such a person tends to view those with different
views as evil or even, in some way, “inhuman” (Peter, 2011). Furthermore, a fanatic will
defend these particular ideas vigorously, sometimes going so far as to attack those who do not
believe them to be valid. A fanatic holds rigidly to his point of view and is intolerant of those
who disagree with him. The Macmillan Dictionary describes a fanatic as “someone who has
very strong religious or political beliefs that often make them behave in an unreasonable
Fanaticism from the psychological perspective is a personality disorder not greatly
different from other phobias and neurotic conditions. A fanatic is a person who could pose a
major threat to the fabric of society. For this reason it has become an important topic in many
areas of psychological and social studies. A fanatic is more than just a narrow-minded and
dogmatic person. S/he tries zealously and by all means to impose her/his convictions on
others.” (Marimaa, 2011). However, some researchers believe that fanaticism is not always a
negative phenomenon. Marimaa (2011) pointed out that fanaticism could be positive or
negative depending on the behaviour of an individual fanatic and the reasons that lead
someone to become fanaticized over a particular issue.
Fanaticism is a learned behaviour, not an instinctive behaviour. Humans acquire this
behaviour through the social environment and the ideas and beliefs existing in the community.
Religious and political beliefs are those which can lead to the most dangerous forms of
fanaticism. These were, and still are, the main causes of many bloody conflicts.
Based on the above analysis, studying fanaticism from a scientific standpoint and using
scientific research may help to clarify the mechanics of this rather vague phenomenon. More
effective approaches to dealing with fanaticism could be a result of this method of study. It
could thus contribute to reducing the impact of this phenomenon on both the individual and
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The importance of this research lies in trying to build a tool capable of measuring one
of the most dangerous phenomena that threaten the social fabric and cause many mental and
behavioural disorders. This serious problem which poses a threat to the mental health of
affected individuals. Fanaticism also has the potential to produce crises throughout society,
whether affecting the political, social or psychological spheres. A scientific approach to
fanaticism is likely to provide new and valuable insights into the phenomenon.