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Organizational Dis trust Comparing Disengagement Among Former Left-Wing and Right-Wing Violent Extremists

NCJ Number
Date Published
22 pages
In order to move beyond the existing push/pull framework to understand disengagement from extremist groups, the authors applied a systematic coding scheme derived from Mayer and colleagues' integrative model of organizational trust to examine why people leave extremist groups.
The study also relied on in-depth life history interviews with 20 former left- and right-wing extremists to examine whether antecedents of distrust varied between the two groups. Findings suggest substantial similarities and important differences between left- and right-wing extremists' decision to leave a group. In particular, perceptions of poor planning and organization, low-quality personnel, and vindictive behavior generated perceptions of organizational distrust and disillusionment. Although findings from the current study are based on a relatively small sample, notable similarities were identified between both groups regarding sources of distrust (e.g., leaders, group members). The study also identified differences regarding the role of violence in weakening solidarity and nurturing disillusionment with extremist activities. The article concludes with suggestions for future research that could extend the study of terrorism and that may have significance for how practitioners address countering violent extremism initiatives. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019