Does Media Exposure Influence an Individual’s Risk of Radicalization?

Summary: Exposure to radicalized content online, both active and passive, was associated with a more meaningful relationship with radicalization.

Source: Wiley

A recent analysis in Campbell Systematic Reviews examined the effects of media on two aspects of radicalization: the support of the use of radical violence in the name of a cause or ideology (called cognitive radicalization) and the actual involvement in such violence (called behavioral radicalization).   

The analysis, which included 53 studies, identified and examined 23 media-related factors. Based on experimental evidence, the study found that simple, one-time exposure to mediated content that is theorized to increase radicalization has a very small effect, even in individuals with aggressive predispositions.

Similarly, evidence indicates that most types of media usage have exceptionally small relationships with radicalization.

However, exposure to radical content over the internet, whether passive or active, was associated with more meaningful relationships with radicalization, especially when compared with other non-media related risk factors.

Importantly, the authors noted that the results should be interpreted with caution because the amount of evidence is limited and of relatively low quality.

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