The Truth is Out There: The Use of Conspiracy Theories by Radical Violent Extremist Organizations
College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Science (MS)
NACO controlled Corporate Body
University of North Florida. Department of Psychology
Dr. Dan Richard
Dr. Debbie Wang
Dr. Lori Lange
Dr. George Rainbolt
This paper sought to examine conspiracy theory (CT) use across three types of groups: radical violent extremists (RVE), non-violent extremists, and moderates. Using the theory of significance quest, or the desire for one’s life to have meaning (Kruglanski, Chen, Dechesne, Fishman, & Orehek, 2009), I sought to determine whether RVE groups were more likely to use CTs, invoke need for cognitive closure (NFCC) via the use of time pressure, elicit anomie, and promote significance quest through violence than the other groups. Using text analysis software, I pulled passages from six groups – two from each level of extremism - that had conspiratorial language and then coded for the variables described above. RVE groups were significantly more likely than the other groups to use CTs and invoke NFCC through time pressure but were less likely than non-violent groups to elicit anomie. In addition, RVE groups were more likely to promote significance gain through action, but not significance restoration or prevention of significance loss. Implications of the findings are discussed.
Rousis, Gregory, "The Truth is Out There: The Use of Conspiracy Theories by Radical Violent Extremist Organizations" (2018). UNF Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 822.