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Commitment to Extremist Ideology: Using Factor Analysis to Move Beyond Binary Measures of Extremism


Commitment to Extremist Ideology: Using Factor Analysis to Move Beyond Binary Measures of Extremism

Abstract: 

This study article focuses on American far-right (FR) extremists who committed ideologically motivated violent or financial crimes in the United States. We examine three research questions. First, are certain types of FR ideological beliefs associated with different types of criminal behavior? Second, can the various indicators of FR ideology be used to create a scalar measure of commitment to FR ideology? Third, which typology of the FR movement provides the most reliable measure of FR extremism? We use data from the United States Extremist Crime Database to measure indicators of FR ideology in a sample of 305 FRs who committed a financial crime or homicide between 2006 and 2010 in the United States. Conspiratorial, antigovernment, and antitax beliefs were positively associated with risk of financial crimes, while xenophobic, survivalist, and anti–gun control beliefs were positively associated with risk of violent crimes. A factor analysis created a commitment to FR ideology scale and identified four sub-types of FRs: Conspiracy Theorist, Survivalist, Movement Participant, and Proud far-rightist. The factor analysis did not support the prevailing typologies. Importantly though, these typologies were useful in predicting criminal behavior patterns of far rightists. We outline a number of other measurement issues for future research to address.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Kerodal, Ashmini G., Joshua D. Freilich and Steven M. Chermak. 2016. "Commitment to Extremist Ideology: Using Factor Analysis to Move Beyond Binary Measures of Extremism." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 39 (April): 687-711. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1057610X.2016.1141012

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