Understanding propaganda mechanisms to prevent violent extremism

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Extremist ideas are present in our daily life, be it online through social media, in reports by the mainstream media, or in our “offline” social circles. Specific propaganda is often easily accessible.  Yet few actually heed the call of extremists to join and fight with them.  Why is that the case?

We have a psychological need for both inclusion and exclusion. So, we need to feel that we are part of something, but we also need to feel that the group is not open to everyone in order for us to feel important ourselves. This is what we see in extremist calls to arms.  Extremist propaganda claims that competition is plainly evident, that the threat from the “others” is real, and that you need to act if you want to be a good member of that group.

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