How Emotions Drive Extremists

Posted on: Wed 6 Sep 2017

This week anti-marriage equality posters have been put up around Melbourne by members of the Antipodean Resistance, an Australian white power group with Neo-Nazi connections.

Why would an extreme nationalist group care about LGBT issues and what is it that motivates them?

Well apparently emotion plays a huge role within decisions to engage in violent political extremism; “this idea that hope can bring about a change in society is a huge attraction…hope that you will create a society in which you are better off, ” says  Victoria University Researcher, Dr Debra Smith.

She adds that people who get involved in these sorts of groups “don’t fully embrace the ideology until they are fully involved, most are driven by social needs… a need for belonging.”

Dr Smith has spent a lot of time thinking about radicalisation in Australia. Her PhD in Political Science at Monash University, explores the role of emotion within decisions to engage in violent political extremism.

She joins Breakfast’s Jennie Lenman and Ian Newton to discuss.

Produced by Jennie Lenman and Hazel Cameron

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


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