Oak Creek shooting/Audio

Psychology professor details research into extremist group mentality

CREATED Aug 7, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug 7, 2012

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  • Photo: Wade Michael Page

Click here to listen to Dr. Franzoi's conversation with "Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure."

OAK CREEK- While no official motive has been determined in the Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting, there is speculation that 40-year-old Wade Michael Page killed six people at the temple on Sunday due to prejudice.

Dr. Stephen L. Franzoi, a psychology professor at Marquette University, told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Afternoon News with John Mercure" that his research into interpersonal processes found that attitudes within extremist groups can feed upon each others prejudices.

"Once (extreme groups) are disengaged from mainstream society, there is no moderation in their views," said Dr. Franzoi.  "The less they socialize with other people...they feed on that hatred."

Dr. Franzoi didn't speculate on whether Page's actions were hate fueled, but noted that Page's attitudes could have been shaped or intensified for his involvement in extremist groups.

A civil rights group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has tied Page to extremist groups.

Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's intelligence project, previously told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that Page attended and was involved in hate events around the country, including as a lead guitarist and vocalist for numerous white supremacist bands.  She said that Page was on the civil rights organization's radar since 2000.

The Associated Press said that extreme musical subculture is a big part of neo-Nazi circles, offering a way for followers to socialize, recruit new members and raise money.

In terms of why prejudice still exists in our society, according to Dr. Franzoi, "When you combine the way people are brought up, their access to violent weapons and the way our culture glorifies violence...those factors play a role in (continued prejudice)."

The Journal Sentinel reports that Page displayed odd behavior to those who knew him -- including calling non-whites "dirt people."