Psykologisk Institut

Cultural threat perceptions predict violent extremism via need for cognitive closure

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  • Milan Obaidi, Københavns Universitet, University of Oslo, Danmark
  • Gulnaz Anjum, University of Oslo, Norge
  • Kinga Bierwiaczonek, University Institute of Lisbon, University of Oslo
  • ,
  • John F. Dovidio, Yale University
  • ,
  • Simon Ozer
  • Jonas R. Kunst, University of Oslo, Harvard University, Danmark
Understanding the psychological processes that drive violent extremism is a pressing global issue. Across six studies, we demonstrate that perceived cultural threats lead to violent extremism because they increase people’s need for cognitive closure (NFC). In general population samples (from Denmark, Afghanistan, Pakistan, France, and an international sample) and a sample of former Mujahideen in Afghanistan, single-level and multilevel mediation analyses revealed that NFC mediated the association between perceived cultural threats and violent extremist outcomes. Further, in comparisons between the sample of former Afghan Mujahideen and the general population sample from Afghanistan following the known-group paradigm, the former Mujahideen scored significantly higher on cultural threat, NFC, and violent extremist outcomes. Moreover, the proposed model successfully differentiated former Afghan Mujahideen participants from the general Afghan participants. Next, two preregistered experiments provided causal support for the model. Experimentally manipulating the predictor (cultural threat) in Pakistan led to higher scores on the mediator (NFC) and dependent variables (violent extremist outcomes). Finally, an experiment conducted in France demonstrated the causal effect of the mediator (NFC) on violent extremist outcomes. Two internal meta-analyses using state-of-the-art methods (i.e., meta-analytic structural equation modeling and pooled indirect effects analyses) further demonstrated the robustness of our results across the different extremist outcomes, designs, populations, and settings. Cultural threat perceptions seem to drive violent extremism by eliciting a need for cognitive closure.
TidsskriftProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - maj 2023

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