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Bio-Markers and Counter-Messages

PI: Neil Shortland, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Year selected for award: 2017

Bio-Markers and Counter-Messages: Measuring Individual Differences in the Influence of Extremist Propaganda and Counter-Messages

Principal Investigator: Neil Shortland, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Co-Principal Investigator: Arie Perliger, University of Massachusetts Lowell , Thomas Gordon, University of Massachusetts Lowell , and Jill Portnoy. University of Massachusetts Lowell

Years of Award: 2018-2021

Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research

Project Description:

This research seeks to understand and measure how exposure to extremist propaganda and countering-extremism campaigns can shift the emotions, attitudes, motivations and behaviors of a variety of target audiences. Recent research has demonstrated that exposure to extremist propaganda is individualized, meaning that psychological variables within the individual impact the effect of exposure to extremist propaganda (Shortland et al., 2017). Given this, this research uses a series of biosocial, psychological and neurological measurements of attention and emotion, coupled with perceptual mapping and agent based modelling techniques to map the interaction of individual differences and the effect of exposure to extremist propaganda and counter-extremist messaging. 
Overall, our project will have the following impact on the field;

 1. Improve theoretical understanding of the role of extremist message and counter-message on the wider psycho-social process of “radicalization”
 2. Provide empirical evidence for the critical role of individual differences in several trait-level factors on the effect of exposure to extremist message and counter-message
 3. Provide empirical evidence for the effectiveness of counter-extremist related counter-messages

Select Publications:

Shortland, N. D., Nader, E., Imperillo, N., Dmello, J., Ross, K. (2017). The Interaction of Extremist Propaganda and Anger as predictors of Aggression. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Shortland, N. D., Nader, E., Imperillo, N., Dmello, J., Ross, K. (under review). “Does online extremist propaganda influence extremist mindset? An experimental assessment of extremist cognitions.”
Shortland, N. D., Nader, E., & Thompson, L. (under review). “Is Extreme in the Eye of the Beholder? A replication of the Militant Extremist Mind-Set Scale with a United States-Based Sample”.