The two-fold objectives of this study were 1) to inform the field of terrorism risk-assessment regarding women and 2) to create a dynamic, multi-dimensional risk model for use by the intelligence community in monitoring at-risk individuals according to their fluctuating levels of threat over time.
The study empirically explored the application of a Moral-Situational Action (MSA-EV) risk model of extremist violence to determine its usefulness in identifying women who have become radicalized; and then through this radicalization actively sought involvement in direct action related to violent extremism. The MD-IV risk model contains three domains reflective of propensity, mobilization, and capacity-building, which were coded quantitatively and qualitatively, using a protocol composed of bilateral risk and protective factors, as well as case narrative for vulnerability and scenario-based analysis. This model was assessed with 300 women who were selected from a sample of 1,462 women identified as being involved with extremist violence. The second component of the study analyzed the reaction of a sample of 45 conservative, liberal, and Muslim women ages 18-35 in jihadist, alt-right, and alt-left propaganda. Reactions were measured by eye-gaze, pupil dilation, galvanic skin response, and facial emotion recognition, along with self-report assessment of their emotions, cognitions, and arousal states when viewing material. Their responses indicated that the sample of 45 women experienced different neurophysiological responses to various types of propaganda and that their responses to horrific images of violence were suggestive of a specific autonomic response that appeared to be unconscious. This process could be distinct from an uninformed rational thinking and logical decisionmaking. This study provides a practical framework for improving the understanding of the evolving ways in which adversaries influence the thought and emotions of people in a way that draws them to radicalization and extremism that condones civilian violence. 24 figures, 12 tables, 20 references, and appended supplementary material
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Date Published: January 1, 2020