Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sarah Cook

Second Advisor

Anthony Lemieux

Third Advisor

Kevin Swartout

Fourth Advisor

John Horgan

Fifth Advisor

Amarnath Amarasingam


Numerous studies have analyzed the ways in which Jihadi violent extremist (JVE) propaganda relates to, or shapes constructs like explicit personality traits, ideological factors, and identity. Fewer studies have included social cognitive factors of violent extremists, and still fewer from an empirical perspective. Using a Social Cognitive theoretical framework, this study analyzes the presence of implicit factors expressed in jihadist propaganda. Specifically, the presence and relationship between implicit motivation, affect, and integrative complexity in explaining JVE behavior. Using a mixed method approach that combines automated linguistic analysis and structural equation modeling, this study sought to identify the presence of implicit social cognitive factors and the degree of concordance with a known behavioral theory in extremist communications. Results confirm that implicit motivation, integrative complexity, and affect do account for a significant degree of JVE communications and fit within a Social Cognitive Framework. Moreover, analyses suggest that implicit motivation and integrative complexity may play a more salient role in conceptualizing JVE behavior than commonly thought. This study makes a case for the utility of including implicit behavioral factors, and more broadly, a social cognitive perspective in understanding factors impacting JVE behavior. Implications for counterterrorism/P/CVE approaches include targeted strategic communications and a better understanding of the mobilizing features of Jihadist propaganda.


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