Researchers have developed a new analytical method to better understand how individuals move toward violent extremism. Using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, the method reveals clusters of traits associated with possible pathways to terrorist acts. The resource may improve our understanding of how an individual becomes radicalized toward extremist violence. A National Institute of Justice-supported scientific study that deploys those tools and blends elements of data science, sociology, and criminology is calling into question some common assumptions about violent extremism and the homegrown individuals who are motivated to engage in behaviors supporting violent jihadist ideologies. This article describes how NIJ-funded research looking at large datasets challenged some long-accepted beliefs on what motivates young people to engage in violent extremism.
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