International Journal of Developmental Science - Volume 12, issue 1-2
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Individual human development is influenced by a multitude of systems, ranging from cultural processes, genetic and physiological incidents up to social interactions. How do these systems cooperate and interact during the course of human development? One of the main goals of Developmental Science is finding an answer to this question.
Since it exceeds the means of researchers from individual scientific disciplines to investigate the simultaneous biopsychosocial changes of systems and how they jointly contribute to the social and adaptive functions of human individuals, a new scientific approach is necessary that links the various traditional scientific disciplines under a biopsychosocial approach to describe individual human development: Developmental Science.
Developmental Science combines concepts and insights from scientific disciplines which hitherto used to independently tackle the research of human and non-human development. As an interdisciplinary approach it examines individuals across the lifespan with the objective of comprehending the development of individuals with different cultural and ethnic as well as biological background, different economic and cognitive potentials and under diverse living conditions. To facilitate the understanding of developmental processes it is also necessary to overcome the disadvantageous separation of “normal” from “abnormal” human development. Thus, the interdisciplinary field of Developmental Science comprises a holistic approach to understanding how different systems interact and influence development throughout life from genetic and physiological processes to social interactions and cultural processes.
International Journal of Developmental Science is especially devoted to research from the fields of Psychology, Genetics, Neuroscience and Biology and provides an interdisciplinary and international forum for basic research and professional application in the field of Developmental Science. The reader will find original empirical or theoretical contributions, methodological and review papers, giving a systematic overview or evaluation of research and theories of Developmental Science and dealing with typical human development and developmental psychopathology during infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. All manuscripts pass through a multilevel peer-review process.
In 2007-2010 (Vol. 1-4) this journal was named
European Journal of Developmental Science. In 2011 its name was changed to
International Journal of Developmental Science.
Abstract: Analysis of incidents over the past ten years in Germany reveals that the boundaries between targeted attacks in schools and terrorist attacks are starting to blur. Böckler, Leuschner, Roth, Zick, and Scheithauer (2018) recently presented a set of hypotheses about similarities between the developmental pathways of school attackers and lone actor terrorists. To date there is only a small body of empirical research comparing these two forms of targeted violence in depth. In order to fill this gap, this article presents findings from a qualitative analysis of prosecution files comparing the developmental pathways of German school attackers (N =…7; age range: 13 to 23) and Jihadi attackers (N = 7; age range: 21 to 28 years) who committed their attacks between 2000 and 2013. Using theoretical coding and constant case comparison, the contribution shows that the two phenomena have overlaps in which developmental processes and social mechanisms are similar. Both school attackers and Jihadi attackers frame their act of violence using cultural scripts and perform the attack on a public stage where victims are attacked not on the basis of personal conflicts but because of their symbolic meaning. Taking into account the similarities in the perpetrators’ developmental pathways, the authors propose that it might be more fruitful from an operational perspective to discuss severe target school violence and terrorist attacks under a common concept of demonstrative violence than to artificially assign them to exclusive classes of violence.
Keywords: Jihadism, terrorism, radicalization, school shooting, developmental pathway, qualitative study
Abstract: It is a human fundamental to desire to be valued, loved and respected – to be significant. Social exclusion induce significance loss which elicits a ‘quest for significance’ – the search for opportunities to re-gain significance. The present article establishes this relation in a laboratory experiment (N = 71, mean age = 28, SD = 10.42, 65% women, 35% men), showing that socially excluded individuals who are subsequently included by a radical group, adapt their attitudes in line with this group. We use a modified version of the well-known paradigm ‘Cyberball’ to elicit the quest for significance. The…results show that when experiencing social exclusion, highly rejection sensitive individuals tend to adapt to the radical group’s opinions. The results are important, highlighting a mechanism in the radicalization process and the importance of taking social factors into account in this process.
Keywords: Radicalization, social exclusion, Cyberball, conformity
Abstract: Radicalising individuals gradually accept violence as legitimate to instigate political and/or societal changes. In two studies, we investigate the beginning phase of the radicalisation process. We examine whether different trajectories into radicalism can be distinguished based on underlying needs, related to identity, injustice, sensation, or significance. Study 1 (N = 179, Mage = 37.6, SDage = 12.1, Rangeage 19–75 years, 46.4% female) investigated the relation between these psychological needs and risk factors of radicalisation such as relative deprivation. Study 2 (N = 183, Mage = 27.2,…SDage = 12.0, Rangeage 18–81 years, 53.0% female) examined whether individuals are attracted to organisations that cater to their own psychological needs, and whether individuals who are thought to be more at risk indeed support violent organisations to a greater extent. Findings indicate that individuals with stronger desires for justice and status are attracted to organisations that can gratify such desires. In addition, at-risk individuals indeed support violent organisations to a greater extent. The implications of these findings for future research and government policy are discussed.
Abstract: In the present study, the interaction between specific measures of endorsement for extremism (e.g. endorsement for religious, left-wing or far-right extremism), thrill-seeking, and active online exposure to extremism via social media with regard to the explanation of politically and/or religiously motivated aggression is investigated. While the relationship between exposure to crime-prone contexts and aggression has been studied widely, no previous study has explicitly demonstrated the conditional effects of these factors in a survey of young adults and with regards to political aggression. This study therefore extends the existing literature by testing propositions derived from the General Aggression Model, a well-established…theory of aggression. The unique contribution of this study is that it is based on distinctive measures of endorsement for extremism (left-wing, nationalist/separatist and religious extremism) and that it focuses on the differential effect of exposure to extremist content online. We make use of a large-scale web survey of young adults in Belgium. 6,020 respondents completed the online questionnaire. Mean age (range, 15– 31 years) was 20.19 years, 35.3% males. The results support an amplification effect: Endorsement for extremism is related to self-reported political aggression, but the effect of endorsement increases by levels of active social media exposure. The results additionally showed that the magnitude of this interaction effect is further depending on thrill-seeking. These findings are rather stable across extremism-specific measures of endorsement for extremism.
Keywords: Political aggression, thrill-seeking, endorsement for extremism, exposure to extremist content, General Aggression Model
Abstract: The main objective of this systematic review is to synthesize the empirical evidence on how the Internet and social media may, or may not, constitute spaces for exchange that can be favorable to violent extremism. Of the 5,182 studies generated from the searches, 11 studies were eligible for inclusion in this review. We considered empirical studies with qualitative, quantitative, and mixed designs, but did not conduct meta-analysis due to the heterogeneous and at times incomparable nature of the data. The reviewed studies provide tentative evidence that exposure to radical violent online material is associated with extremist online and offline attitudes,…as well as the risk of committing political violence among white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and radical Islamist groups. Active seekers of violent radical material also seem to be at higher risk of engaging in political violence as compared to passive seekers. The Internet’s role thus seems to be one of decision-shaping, which, in association with offline factors, can be associated to decision-making. The methodological limitations of the reviewed studies are discussed, and recommendations are made for future research.
Abstract: Extremism and radicalization towards violence are urgent topics in many countries. Numerous research projects are carried out, of which many focus on risk factors only. In contrast, this article contains a systematic review of the rare international research on protective factors. After screening more than 2,000 documents, we found 17 reports containing 21 analyses that specifically addressed potential protective effects and provided quantitative data. Most studies addressed religious/ethnic extremism; far-right, far-left, and mixed forms were less frequent. Thirty different protective factors showed significant effects. Many were found in single analyses, but there were various replicated factors such as self-control, adherence…to law, acceptance of police legitimacy, illness, positive parenting behavior, non-violent significant others, good school achievement, non-violent peers, contact to foreigners, and a basic attachment to society. Most findings are similar to what we know from more general research on youth violence, but there are also some protective factors that seem to be more specific, particularly with regard to religious/ethnic extremism. In conclusion, it is suggested to relate the topic of extremism and violent radicalization more strongly with other fields of developmental and life course criminology. For further progress on this path, more research on protective factors and integrated theoretical concepts are needed. This will also contribute to effective prevention.
Abstract: The Situational Action Theory of crime submits that law-related morality, the ability to exercise self-control, and exposure to criminogenic settings are key predictors of both regular criminality and violent extremism. Indeed, morality and self-control were found to be significantly correlated with violent extremism, and especially right-wing inspired violence. However, while the effect of criminogenic exposure on crime has been established, its effect on violent extremism remains to be examined. Moreover, it is unclear whether morality, self-control and exposure can predict not only violent, but also non-violent extremism. The current study addresses the recent call to differentiate extremism from violent extremism,…by examining how morality, self-control and criminogenic exposure affect both outcomes. To do so, we utilize a random sample of 684 young adults (age 19, 50.1% female) in Peterborough, UK. We find that exposure to criminogenic settings is a key factor in understanding the potential for violent extremism, and suggest pathways for further investigation.
Keywords: Situational Action Theory, right-wing extremism, political violence, criminal pathways
Abstract: This article reconstructs disengagement of women from extreme right groups not theoretically as individual decision-making process, but empirically as social identity work. A thorough analysis of qualitative interviews conducted with six female and six male former right-wing extremists demonstrates how extreme right membership identities of women are socially produced. In tension-laden interactions between women and men processes of “becoming and being an extreme right woman” unfold in the dimensions of caring feminity, masculinity, disciplined heterosexuality, and political subordination. All interviewed women contributed fundamentally to upholding and disseminating right-wing structures and ideologies. The analysis reveals that the women fashion a disengagement…narrative in which they emphasize their true and good core self. The narratives focus on suffering, or demonstrate how the core self was deceived by circumstances into extremist activity. The results correspond with the narrative identity theory of desistance and offer initial starting points for a professional deradicalisation practice that is sensitive to positive self-illusion.
Keywords: Extreme right women, (dis-)engagement, positive illusion, deradicalisation, qualitative study
Abstract: Violent extremism research is still lacking a sound empirical basis for the validation of assessment instruments. Yet there is a growing need for these instruments to assess the dangerousness of individuals, but also the success of interventions. By analysing prisoner files of one female and 39 male inmates (average age 28.83 years, SD = 7.58) with administratively assigned Islamism-related security labels in Bavarian prisons, we tried to clarify two questions: Firstly, is it possible to collect relevant data from prisoner files drawing on risk assessment procedures? Secondly, how do inmates associated with the Salafist scene (security label “Salafist scene”)…differ from those who are apparently involved with terror networks (security label “terror”), and do these differences predict the risk they pose? Our results suggest that files are a valuable, though not perfect data source for individual assessment and research. The two groups defined by the labels differ significantly in their biographies, mental health, and behaviour. Conclusions pertaining to biographical background factors, risk assessment, and management are discussed.