According to a study by the RAND Corporation, the adoption of extremist ideologies is tied to negative life events and exposure to propaganda. Deviation from such ideologies often occurs with the aid of friends or social groups, the study also found.
The researchers associated with the RAND study examined first-hand accounts from numerous former people with extremist ideologies, including white supremacists and Islamic extremists. 32 participants with a history of radicalization were included.
Throughout the study, researchers explored the background of the participants, their pathways to radicalization, and their motives as to why they chose to distance themselves from extremist ideologists.
“It may be difficult to observe noticeable changes in individuals until they are radicalized and those changes often are a surprise to their family. It is only after the radicalization takes place that family members and friends may understand what has happened,” the authors of the study stated in a news release.
“Our work suggests that the punitive approach should be used sparingly because it seldom ends radicalization and frequently has negative consequences for community members.”
The study was supported by the National Institute of Justice.