Thursday, October 12, 2017

Developmental Predictors of Violent Extremist Attitudes: A Test of General Strain Theory

Developmental Predictors of Violent Extremist Attitudes: A Test of General Strain Theory. Amy Nivette, Manuel Eisner, Denis Ribeaud. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol 54, Issue 6, 2017.


Objectives: This study examines the influence of collective strain on support for violent extremism among an ethnically diverse sample of Swiss adolescents. This study explores two claims derived from general strain theory: (1) Exposure to collective strain is associated with higher support for violent extremism and (2) the effect of collective strain is conditional on perceptions of moral and legal constraints.

Methods: This study uses data from two waves of the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children and Youth. We use ordinary least squares procedures to regress violent extremist attitudes at age 17 on strain, moral and legal constraints, and control variables measured at ages 15 to 17. Conditional effects were examined using an interaction term for collective strain and moral neutralization and legal cynicism, respectively.

Results: The results show that collective strain does not have a direct effect on violent extremist attitudes once other variables are controlled. However, the degree to which individuals neutralize moral and legal constraints amplifies the impact of collective strain on violent extremist attitudes.
Conclusions: This study shows that those who already espouse justifications for violence and rule breaking are more vulnerable to extremist violent pathways, particularly when exposed to collective social strife, conflict, and repression.

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