Youth Extremism as a Response to Global Threats? A Threat-Regulation Perspective on Violent Extremism Among the Youth

Violent extremism is rising across the globe as indicated by the growing number of attacks of terrorist organizations. It is known that violent extremism is carried out mainly by young people due to developmental and external factors. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that ideologically motivated violence stems from threat-regulation processes aiming to restore significance, control, and certainty. Nevertheless, few studies from the threat-regulation literature have focused on youth samples and on the social-economic and political context in which radicalization processes occur. Here, we hypothesize that one driver of the surge in violent extremism might be globalization. To do so, we review the evidence that shows that globalization increases the perception of affiliative, economic, and existential threats. In return, some studies suggest that these kinds of threats promote violent extremism among youth samples. Therefore, we conclude that the threatening context generated by four decades of globalization might be a risk factor for youth extremism in the long run.

This study was conducted in the scope of the ongoing EU-funded research for the PRIME Youth project conducted under the supervision of the Principal Investigator, Prof. Dr. Ayhan Kaya, and funded by the European Research Council with the Agreement Number 785934.

European Psychologist (2021), 26, pp. 15-28. © 2021 Hogrefe Publishing.

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