August 1st: Attitudinal Inoculation For Counter-Radicalization Training By American University


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Effectively stemming the threat posed by violent extremism and terrorism requires that we use all strategic tools at our disposal. This means that we cannot rely exclusively on security-based solutions to deal with those who have already turned to violence; we must also use proactive communication strategies to prevent vulnerable individuals from becoming violent in the first place. It is not enough that we challenge extremist propaganda after it has already reached target audiences; we must also try to undermine that propaganda before it takes hold.

Attitudinal inoculation is one form of strategic counter-persuasion that achieves this very goal. Based on decades of social-scientific evidence, attitudinal inoculation uses target audiences’ innate dislike of being persuaded to undercut the appeal of extremist messaging.

In these training modules, Dr. Kurt Braddock of American University’s School of Communication and Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab describes the foundations of attitudinal inoculation so trainees may apply it in any context in which they wish to prevent violent radicalization.

Across a four-hour training sessions, Dr. Braddock:

1) Explains the history of attitudinal inoculation and how it came to be the preeminent counterpersuasion tool in strategic communication

2) Outlines research he has conducted to scientifically demonstrate how inoculation can be used to prevent violent radicalization

3) Describes how to identify audiences that can benefit from attitudinal inoculation targeting extremist ideologies

4) Details how you can develop your own inoculation messages, tailored to specific operational contexts

5) Engages with trainees about their own goals and helps determine how inoculation can be used to achieve them

6) Provides trainees with tangible tools with which they can develop and deliver inoculation messages on their own, helping to reduce violence among target audiences