The Radicalisation Cascade: Using Behavioural Economics to Understand how People are Influenced towards Violent Extremes by al-Qaeda and ISIS

Doctorate other than PhD


Matejic, Nicole. 2023. The Radicalisation Cascade: Using Behavioural Economics to Understand how People are Influenced towards Violent Extremes by al-Qaeda and ISIS. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Professional Studies. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/yy21y
Title

The Radicalisation Cascade: Using Behavioural Economics to Understand how People are Influenced towards Violent Extremes by al-Qaeda and ISIS

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorsMatejic, Nicole
Supervisor
1. FirstA/Pr Peter Phillips
2. SecondProf Luke van der Laan
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Professional Studies
Number of Pages436
Year2023
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/yy21y
Abstract

The study of radicalisation towards violent extremism using behavioural economics as a framework to organise and understand influence is an emergent area of scholarship as are the effects of exposure to terrorist and violent extremist content. Existing literature has approached these challenges from multi-disciplinary viewpoints, which have all contributed to a growing body of knowledge. However, by using behavioural economics as a tool to explore these challenges together, this thesis provides a new perspective. By using open-source data and investigative techniques to map the radicalisation and recruitment trajectories of Australian violent Islamists against a choice architecture framework, this thesis explores how the influence exerted on individual and group decision-making can lead to violence. By viewing the radicalisation and recruitment process through an availability cascade lens and acknowledging that the environment is inherently participative in group settings, this thesis offers a new radicalisation model via the mapping of common decision-pathways to violent Islamists. While technology has contributed to facilitating access to terrorist and violent extremist content, the composition of the content itself must also be understood in greater depth. By observing terrorist organisations’ exploitation of communications technology to deliver heuristically-laden content that leverages existing preferences and biases, influence can be exerted on susceptible individuals in ways that normalise, sanction and promote violence. While this thesis is supported by research into Australian Islamic violent extremists, the radicalisation cascade presented is ideologically agnostic and can be applied to any group-based radicalising environment. Only when we understand the decision-making frameworks prospective violent extremists are nudged into and influenced by, can we develop effective deterrence, prevention and disengagement strategies.

KeywordsBehavioural Economics, Radicalisation, Terrorism, National Security, Behavioural Pscyhology
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020389999. Other economics not elsewhere classified
440201. Causes and prevention of crime
470199. Communication and media studies not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Business
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