Radicalisation among Young People: In Search of Risk Assessment Model



Problem. Terrorism is a long-standing phenomenon, it has existed for more than two millennia. It has been changing over time, acquiring the new features and characteristics of a particular era, but one feature has retained unchanged: terrorism still poses a serious threat to society. Purpose: the focus of our attention in this paper is to look into the potential of socio-psychological knowledge to assess the risk of radicalization in the adolescent and youth environment. This determines the purpose of the theoretical analysis presented here. Results: In the absence of risk assessment tools, M. Hogg’s theory of uncertainty-identity is an empirically proven theory adequate to explain the process of radicalisation (taking into account that a person is not radicalised alone, committing actions involving extreme violence is not an automatic continuation of extreme (or radical) ideas). The model explains why and how people join groups with extremist and radical beliefs, as well as why they pre-fer acts of violence, acting on behalf of these groups.

General Information

Keywords: radicalisation, terrorism, uncertainty, social identity, risk assessment

Journal rubric: Methodological Problems of Legal Psychology

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/psylaw.2022120215

Funding. The work was performed as a part of the research project “Assessment of the radicalisation risk among young people” (State assignment of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, no. 073-00110-22-02 dated 08.04.2022).

For citation: Dvoryanchikov N.V., Bovin B.G., Bovina I.B. Radicalisation among Young People: In Search of Risk Assessment Model [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologiya i pravo = Psychology and Law, 2022. Vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 207–223. DOI: 10.17759/psylaw.2022120215. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Baudrillard J. Dukh terrorizma. Voiny v Zalive ne bylo [Spirit of terrorism. The Gulf War will not take place]. Moscow: Ripol-Klassik. 2017. 226 p. (in Russ.).
  2. Gomez A. Razlichiya mezhdu dzhikhadistami i neradikal’nymi musul’manami i programmy deradikalizatsii v Ispanii. Nauchno-metodologicheskii seminar “Psikhologiya ekstremizma, radikalizatsii i deradikalizatsii” [Differences between jihadists and non-radical Muslims and de-radicalization programs in Spain. Scientific and methodological seminar “Psychology of extremism, radicalization and deradicalization”], Moskva, MGPPU, 11 maya 2021 [Elektronnyi resurs]. Kanal MGPPU na YouTube. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEiNNpK0uoQ (Accessed 14.03.2022). (In Russ.).
  3. Rakitov A.I. Novyi podkhod k vzaimosvyazi istorii, informatsii i kul’tury: primer Rossii. Voprosy filosofii = Voprosy Filosofii, 1994, no. 4, pp. 14–34. (In Russ.)
  4. Yurevich A.V. Metodologiya i sotsiologiya psikhologii. Moscow: Institut psikhologii RAN Publ., 2010. 272 p. (in Russ.).
  5. Belavadi S., Hogg M.A. Social categorisation and identity process in uncertainty management: the role of intragroup communication. In: S.R. Thye, E.J. Lawler (eds.). Advances in Group Processes. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited, 2019, pp. 61–77. doi:10.1108/S0882-614520190000036006
  6. Brugh C.S., Desmarais S.L., Simons-Rudolph J., Zottola S.A. Gender in the jihad: Characteristics and outcomes among women and men involved in jihadism-inspired terrorism. Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 2019, pp. 76–92. doi:10.1037/tam0000123
  7. Choi E.U., Hogg M.A. Self-uncertainty and group identification: A meta-analysis. Group processes and intergroup relations, 2019, pp. 1–19. doi:10.1177/1368430219846990
  8. Cronin A.K. Behind the curve. Globalization and international terrorism. International Security, 2002/2003. Vol. 27, pp. 30–58.
  9. Doise W. Levels of explanation in social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. 242 p.
  10. Doosje B., Loseman A., Van den Bos K. Determinants of Radicalisation of Islamic Youth in the Netherlands: Personal Uncertainty, Perceived Injustice, and Perceived Group Threat. Journal of Social Issues, 2013. Vol. 69, pp. 586–604. doi:10.1111/josi.12030
  11. Fowler J.C. Suicide risk assessment in clinical practice: pragmatic guidelines for imperfect assessments. Psychotherapy, 2012. Vol. 49, pp. 81—90.
  12. Gelfand M.J., LaFree G., Fahey S., Feinberg E. Culture and Extremism. Journal of Social Issues, 2013. Vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 495–517. doi:10.1111/josi.12026
  13. Global Terrorism database. 2020. URL: https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx? search=&sa.x=54&sa.y=3 (Accessed 26.01.2022).
  14. Haslam C., Jetten J., Cruwys T., Dingle G., Haslam S.A. The new psychology of health. London: Routledge, 2018. 490 p.
  15. Herrington V., Roberts K. Risk assessment in counterterrorism. In: U. Kumar, M.K. Mandal (eds.). Countering terrorism: Psychosocial strategies. London, United Kingdom: Sage, 2012, pp. 282–305.
  16. Hogg M.A. Self-uncertainty, social identity and the solace of extremism. In: M.A. Hogg, D.L. Blaylock (eds.). Extremism and psychology of uncertainty. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, pp. 19–35.
  17. Hogg M.A. Social identity theory. In: P.J. Burke (ed.). Contemporary social psychological theories. Palo-Alto: Stanford University Press, 2006, pp. 111–136.
  18. Hogg M.A. To belong or not to belong: some self-conceptual and behavioural consequences of identity uncertainty. Revista de Psicología Social, 2015. Vol. 30, pp. 586–613. doi:10.1080/02134748.2015.1065090
  19. Hogg M.A. Uncertainty-identity theory. In: M.P. Zanna (ed.). Advances in experimental social psychology. Vol. 39. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2007, pp. 69–126.
  20. Hogg M. A. Uncertainty-identity theory. In P.A.M. Van Lange, A.W. Kruglanski, E.T. Higgins (eds.). Handbook of theories of social psychology. London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2012, pp. 62–80. doi:10.4135/9781446249222.n29
  21. Hogg M., Kruglanski A., K.Van den Bos. Uncertainty and the Roots of Extremism. Journal of Social Issues, 2013. Vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 407–418.
  22. King M., Taylor D.M. The Radicalization of Homegrown Jihadists: A Review of Theoretical Models and Social Psychological Evidence. Terrorism and Political Violence, 2011, pp. 602–622 doi:10.1080/09546553.2011.587064
  23. Knudsen R.A. Measuring radicalisation: risk assessment conceptualisations and practice in England and Wales. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 2020. Vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 37–54. doi:10.1080/19434472.2018.1509105
  24. Koomen W., Van der Pligt J. Introduction. In: W. Koomen, J. van der Pligt (eds.). The Psychology of Radicalization and Terrorism. New York: Routledge, 2016, pp.1–10.
  25. Kruglanski A., Fishman S. Psychological Factors in Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Individual, Group, and Organizational Levels of Analysis. Social Issues and Policy Review, 2009. Vol. 3, pp. 1–44. doi:10.1111/j.1751-2409.2009.01009.x
  26. McCauley C. The ABC model: Commentary from the Perspective of the Two Pyramids Model of Radicalization. Terrorism and Political Violence, 2020. Vol. 34, pp. 451–459. doi:10.1080/09546553.2020.1763964
  27. Sarma K.M. Risk assessment and the prevention of radicalization from nonviolence into terrorism. American Psychologist, 2017. Vol. 72, no. 3, pp. 278–288. doi:10.1037/amp0000121
  28. Silke A. The study of terrorism and counterterrorism. In: A. Silke (ed.). Routledge Handbook of terrorism and counterterrorism. New York: Routledge, 2019, pp. 1–10.
  29. Tajfel H. Social psychology of intergroup relations. Annual Review of Psychology, 1982. Vol. 33, pp. 1–39. doi:10.1146/annurev.ps.33.020182.000245
  30. Trimbur M. Les terroristes et personnes radicalisées ont-ils des troubles mentaux ? Une revue systématique de la littérature. Thèse pour le diplôme d’Etat de docteur en médecine. Lille: Université de Lille, 2019. 141 p.
  31. van Stekelenburg J., Klandermans P.G. Radicalization. In: A. Azzi, X. Chryssochoou, B. Klandermans, B. Simon (eds.). Identity and Participation in Culturally Diverse Societies. A Multidisciplinary Perspective. New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2010, pp. 181–195.
  32. van Stekelenburg J., Oegema D., Klandermans P. G. No radicalization without identification: How ethnic Dutch and Dutch Muslim web forums radicalize over time. In: A. Azzi, X. Chryssochoou, B. Klandermans, B. Simon (eds.). Identity and Participation in Culturally Diverse Societies. A Multidisciplinary Perspective. Blackwell Wiley, 2010, pp. 256–274.
  33. Victoroff J. The Mind of the Terrorist: A Review and Critique of Psychological Approaches. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2005. Vol. 49, pp. 3–42. doi:10.1177/0022002704272040
  34. Wieviorka M. From the “classic” terrorism of the 1970s to contemporary “global” terrorism. In: D. Jodelet, J. Vala, E. Drozda-Senkowska (eds.). Societies under threat. Cham: Springer, 2020, pp. 75–85.
  35. Woo D.J., Giles H., Hogg M.A., Goldman L. A social psychology of gangs: An intergroup analysis. In: S.H. Decker, D.C. Pyrooz (eds.). Handbook of gangs and gang responses. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015, pp. 186–212.

Information About the Authors

Nikolay V. Dvoryanchikov, PhD in Psychology, Docent, Dean, Faculty of Legal and Forensic Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1462-5469, e-mail: dvorian@gmail.com

Boris G. Bovin, PhD in Psychology, Docent, Leading Researcher, Federal State Institution Research Institute of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9255-7372, e-mail: bovinbg@yandex.ru

Inna B. Bovina, Doctor of Psychology, Research Director, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical and Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9497-6199, e-mail: innabovina@yandex.ru



Total: 599
Previous month: 56
Current month: 28


Total: 178
Previous month: 8
Current month: 6