The recruitment process of the shining path and MRTA guerrilla groups: a political psychological perspective

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor's Name

Eduardo Gamarra

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Nicholas Onuf

Third Advisor's Name

N. David Cook

Date of Defense



This thesis is an analysis of the recruitment process of the Shining Path -SP- and Revolutionary Movement “Tupac Amaru” -MRTA- guerrilla groups. Although SP was considered more aggressive, it gained more followers than MRTA. This thesis tries to explain why. Social Revolution Theory and Social Movement Theory provide explanations based on issues of “poverty”, disregarding the specific characteristics of the guerrilla groups and their supporters, as well as the influence of specific persuasive processes between the leaders of the groups and their followers. Integrative complexity theory, on the contrary, provides a consistent method to analyze cognitive processes: because people tend to reject complex and sophisticated explanations that require mental efforts, simplicity was the key for success. To prove which guerrilla group provided a simpler worldview, a sample of official documents of SP and MRTA are compared. Finally, content analysis is applied through the Paragraph Completion Test (P.C.T.).



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