Year of Publication

2018

Season of Publication

Summer

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Dan Richard

Second Advisor

Dr. Debbie Wang

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange

College Dean

Dr. George Rainbolt

Abstract

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.

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