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The Moderating Effects of “Dark” Personality Traits and Message Vividness on the Persuasiveness of Terrorist Narrative Propaganda

Braddock, K; Schumann, S; Corner, E; Gill, P; (2022) The Moderating Effects of “Dark” Personality Traits and Message Vividness on the Persuasiveness of Terrorist Narrative Propaganda. Frontiers in Psychology , 13 , Article 779836. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.779836. Green open access

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Abstract

Terrorism researchers have long discussed the role of psychology in the radicalization process. This work has included research on the respective roles of individual psychological traits and responses to terrorist propaganda. Unfortunately, much of this work has looked at psychological traits and responses to propaganda individually and has not considered how these factors may interact. This study redresses this gap in the literature. In this experiment (N = 268), participants were measured in terms of their narcissism, Machiavellianism, subclinical psychopathy, and everyday sadism—collectively called the Dark Tetrad. Participants were then exposed to a vivid or nonvivid terrorist narrative (or a control message). Results indicate that Machiavellianism interacts with both narrative exposure and narrative vividness to amplify the persuasive effect of terrorist narratives. Neither narcissism, subclinical psychopathy, nor everyday sadism had such an effect. These results highlight the importance of considering the psychological traits of audiences when evaluating proclivity for radicalization via persuasion by terrorist narratives.

Type: Article
Title: The Moderating Effects of “Dark” Personality Traits and Message Vividness on the Persuasiveness of Terrorist Narrative Propaganda
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.779836
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.779836
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 Braddock, Schumann, Corner and Gill. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: terrorism, radicalization, narratives, narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, sadism, vividness
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10153167
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