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      Active inoculation boosts attitudinal resistance against extremist persuasion techniques: a novel approach towards the prevention of violent extremism

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          Abstract

          The Internet is gaining relevance as a platform where extremist organizations seek to recruit new members. For this preregistered study, we developed and tested a novel online game, Radicalise, which aims to combat the effectiveness of online recruitment strategies used by extremist organizations, based on the principles of active psychological inoculation. The game “inoculates” players by exposing them to severely weakened doses of the key techniques and methods used to recruit and radicalize individuals via social media platforms: identifying vulnerable individuals, gaining their trust, isolating them from their community and pressuring them into committing a criminal act in the name of the extremist organization. To test the game's effectiveness, we conducted a preregistered 2 × 2 mixed (pre–post) randomized controlled experiment ( n = 291) with two outcome measures. The first measured participants’ ability and confidence in assessing the manipulativeness of fictitious WhatsApp messages making use of an extremist manipulation technique before and after playing. The second measured participants’ ability to identify what factors make an individual vulnerable to extremist recruitment using 10 profile vignettes, also before and after playing. We find that playing Radicalise significantly improves participants’ ability and confidence in spotting manipulative messages and the characteristics associated with vulnerability.

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          Most cited references 60

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           Faye Crosby (1976)
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            Effect of perspective taking on the cognitive representation of persons: a merging of self and other.

            Two experiments examined the possibility that perspective taking leads observers to create cognitive representation of others that substantially overlap with the observers' own self-representations. In Experiment 1 observers receiving role-taking instructions were more likely to ascribe traits to a novel target that they (observers) had earlier indicated were self-descriptive. This pattern was most pronounced, however for positively valenced traits. In Experiment 2 some participants received role-taking instructions but were also given a distracting memory task. In the absence of this task, role taking again produced greater overlap--primarily for positive traits--between self- and target representations. In the presence of the memory task, the degree of self-target overlap was significantly reduced for all traits, regardless of valence. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed.
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              Some Contemporary Approaches

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                Author and article information

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                Journal
                Behavioural Public Policy
                Behav. Public Policy
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                2398-063X
                2398-0648
                February 01 2021
                : 1-24
                Article
                10.1017/bpp.2020.60
                © 2021

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