Why Is It so Difficult to Investigate Violent Radicalization?Span J Psychol. 2023 May 01; 26:e7.SJ
Imagine that you are a researcher interested in disentangling the underlying mechanisms that motivate certain individuals to self-sacrifice for a group or an ideology. Now, visualize that you are one of a few privileged that have the possibility of interviewing people who have been involved in some of the most dramatic terrorist attacks in history. What should you do? Most investigations focused on terrorism do not include empirical data and just a handful of fortunate have made face-to-face interviews with these individuals. Therefore, we might conclude that most experts in the field have not directly met the challenge of experiencing studying violent radicalization in person. As members of a research team who have talked with individuals under risk of radicalization, current, and former terrorists, our main goal with this manuscript is to synopsize a series of ten potential barriers that those interested in the subject might find when making fieldwork, and alternatives to solve them. If all the efforts made by investigators could save the life of a potential victim, prevent an individual from becoming radicalized, or make him/her decide to abandon the violence associated with terrorism, all our work will have been worthwhile.