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Published in: Social Justice Research 3/2020

19-02-2020

Observer Sensitivity and Early Radicalization to Violence Among Young People in Germany

Authors: Sara Jahnke, Carl Philipp Schröder, Laura-Romina Goede, Lena Lehmann, Luisa Hauff, Andreas Beelmann

Published in: Social Justice Research | Issue 3/2020

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Abstract

Personal sensitivity to injustice from either a victim or an observer perspective shapes political attitudes and actions. Yet, little is known about the link between justice sensitivity, particularly from an observer perspective, and early radicalization. We investigate the hypotheses that victim and observer sensitivity are differentially linked to political orientation and early radicalization outcomes among adolescents and young adults. We assessed political orientations, justice sensitivity, and early radicalization (as attitudes or intentions regarding illegal/violent political strategies) among 303 young activists (Study 1) and 3715 ninth graders (Study 2). Across both studies, observer sensitivity was linked to stronger left-wing orientations, while victim sensitivity predicted stronger right-wing orientations. Yet, findings with respect to early radicalization outcomes were mixed: Among young adult activists in Study 1, observer (but not victim) justice sensitivity positively predicted both legal activism intentions and radicalization. Among ninth graders in Study 2, on the other hand, general and right-wing radicalization were negatively associated with observer sensitivity and positively associated with victim sensitivity. The results indicate that the link between observer sensitivity and early radicalization can be positive or negative depending on the age of the sample and the political context. We discuss potential reasons for the conflicting results, as well as limitations and implications for future research.

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Appendix
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Footnotes
1
Left-wing orientations are significantly correlated with higher observer sensitivity and lower support for general and right-wing radicalization, but showed a null correlation with left-wing radicalization. A visual inspection of the association between left-wing orientation and left-wing radicalization indicated a U-type relationship with participants from both ends (but particularly the right-wing end) of the political spectrum showing higher rates of agreement. In light of this obvious validity problem, we refrained from using left-wing radicalization as an outcome in Study 2.
 
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Metadata
Title
Observer Sensitivity and Early Radicalization to Violence Among Young People in Germany
Authors
Sara Jahnke
Carl Philipp Schröder
Laura-Romina Goede
Lena Lehmann
Luisa Hauff
Andreas Beelmann
Publication date
19-02-2020
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Social Justice Research / Issue 3/2020
Print ISSN: 0885-7466
Electronic ISSN: 1573-6725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-020-00351-y

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