Skip to main content

Pathways to violence: do uncertainty and dark world perceptions increase intentions to engage in political violence?


Journal Abstract

This paper develops and experimentally tests two pathways to intentions to engage in political violence. By distinguishing between self-directed and other-directed explanations of political violence, it presents the two pathways of uncertainty and dark world perceptions. In the first pathway, self-related uncertainty is projected onto hostile outgroups, motivating politically violent intentions. In the second pathway, perceptions of the world as chaotic, dark and dangerous make political violence seem necessary by making deliberation seem less likely. In two large, population representative, survey-experimental studies in the United States and Denmark (total n = 2889), the paper conjointly tests these two pathways. The results show causal support for the uncertainty pathway in predicting intentions to engage in violence rather than activism, but show less support for the dark world pathway. Finally, the paper recommends uncertainty-reducing interventions to combat the risk of increased political violence in society.

You might also like: