Norwegian version of this page

APVIOLEXT - From apathy to violent extremism: Motivational foundations of political engagement

Understanding the conditions under which people engage in political action constitutes one of the core questions in the social and political sciences.

About the project

While many societal problems require collective action, political disengagement seems to be the dominant social norm. Violent extremism is on the rise worldwide with a few individuals willing to sacrifice everything for a political cause. This project propose a novel model of political engagement that aims to explain such diversity of political behavior. We draw on basic theories of motivation showing that people commit to goals that they consider important and desirable and which they perceive as attainable through their own actions.


To achieve these goals, people engage in behaviors that they believe to be appropriate means. We suggest that people donate money, attend protests, vote, or join extremist groups because by doing so they hope to achieve some valuable political goals. As such, engagement in political behavior should depend on

 1) the importance attached to those goals

 2) the general expectancy of attaining them

 3) the perceived instrumentality of the particular political behavior coupled with a belief that one can enact that behavior (i.e., self-efficacy).

Three interrelated work packages consisting of qualitative, cross-sectional, longitudinal, experimental, and field studies are proposed to test this model in the context of diverse political causes, including causes that are highly relevant in the contemporary world (e.g., gender equality, climate change).


Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, University of Maryland, USA, Yale University, USA


EEA Norway Grants, 2020-2024.

Image may contain: Azure, Font, Electric blue, Circle, Logo.


Published May 21, 2021 12:33 PM - Last modified June 27, 2022 12:42 PM