Keynote speakers

John Horgan

Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology, at Georgia State University

John Horgan is Distinguished University Professor at the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University.  He has a BA and PhD in applied psychology, and his research focuses on terrorism and political violence - specifically on understanding psychological qualities of pathways into, through, and out of terrorism. John has previously held positions at the University of Massachusetts, Penn State University, the University of St. Andrews, UK, and University College, Cork, Ireland. His books include The Psychology of Terrorism  (second edition published June 2014), Divided We Stand: The Strategy and Psychology of Ireland's Dissident Terrorists, Walking Away from Terrorism: Accounts of Disengagement from Radical and Extremist MovementsLeaving Terrorism Behind: Individual and Collective DisengagementTerrorism Studies: A Reader, and The Future of Terrorism. He is Editor of the premier terrorism studies journal Terrorism and Political Violence, and serves on the Boards of such journals as Politics and the Life SciencesLegal and Criminological PsychologyStudies in Conflict and TerrorismJournal for Deradicalization and Journal of Strategic Security. His research has been featured in such venues as The New York Times, VICE News, New York Magazine, TIME, CNN, NBC, Rolling Stone, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


Keynote: "The Incel Rebellion: The Rise of Male Supremacy as a New Form of Terrorism?"  

Abstract:  On 23 May 2014, 22-year-old Elliott Rodger killed 6 people and injured 14 more in a shooting and stabbing spree in Isla Vista, California. Rodger, who shot and killed himself before authorities could apprehend him, was a self-identified “Incel”, a member of an online movement describing its followers as “involuntarily celibate”. Incels are largely young, white males whose identity centers around frustration and rage directed against women. That rage is purportedly grounded in Incels' real or imagined inability to find female romantic or sexual partners. Further acts of public violence against women have recently shone a spotlight on Incels, though little is known about the broader movement and its relationship to those specific attackers. In this presentation, John Horgan offers a background and overview of the Incel ecosystem, its culture, language and terminology. Horgan considers Incel-related violence as a new and emerging kind of terrorism, and he examines the role of misogynistic world views in violent extremism more broadly

Michael Hogg

Michael Hogg (PhD, Bristol) is Professor and Chair of the Social Psychology Program at Claremont Graduate University, in Los Angeles, an Honorary Professor at the University of Kent, in the UK, and a former President of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.

He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Michael Hogg’s research on group processes, intergroup relations, group influence and self and identity is closely associated with the development of social identity theory. He has 360 scientific publications that have been cited 73,000 times, and was the 2010 recipient of the Carol and Ed Diener Mid-Career Award in Social Psychology from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He is foundation Editor-in-Chief with Dominic Abrams of the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, an associate editor of The Leadership Quarterly, and a former associate editor of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Current research foci include leadership and influence, uncertainty and extremism, exclusion and marginalization, and subgroup dynamics within groups.


Keynote: “Uncertainty and Intergroup Violence: Identification with Extremist Groups Reduces Self-Uncertainty and Facilitates Violence”

Abstract: People need a clear sense of who they are. This allows them to understand the world and their place within it, and to configure their behavior and predict the behavior of others. Self-uncertainty motivates uncertainty reduction, and one of the most powerful ways to reduce self-uncertainty is to identify with a distinctive social group or category that has a consensual, unambiguous and clearly defined collective identity. This idea has been developed by a social psychological theory, uncertainty-identity theory, which explores the motivational role of self-uncertainty in social identity processes and associated group dynamics and intergroup relations. The analysis has significant implications for our understanding of the social psychology of radicalization and violent extremism. It describes how self-uncertainty, particularly when viewed as a self-threat, strengthens preference for and identification with xenophobic groups that are intolerant of internal dissent and have autocratic leaders. In this talk I describe the key features of uncertainty-identity theory in order to focus primarily on its account of radicalization, internalization of extremist ideologies and identities, and support for autocratic populist leadership. Based on this analysis I suggest some general social psychological considerations that might reduce people’s vulnerability to radicalization and violent extremism.

Sophia Moskalenko

Sophia Moskalenko received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004.

Her research on terrorism and radicalization has been presented in scientific conferences, government briefings, radio broadcasts and international television newscasts. As a research fellow at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (NC-START) she has worked on research projects commissioned by the Department of Defence, Department of Homeland Security and Department of State.

With Clark McCauley, she has co-authored award-winning Friction: How conflict radicalizes them and us, and The Marvel of Martyrdom: The power of self-sacrifice in the selfish world.


Keynote: “From martyrdom to revolution: mass radicalization in the age of social media”

Abstract: Martyrs can move sympathizers to activism, self-sacrifice and radical political action, as did Ten Men Dead in Northern Ireland, Gandhi in India, Mandela in South Africa, and Martin Luther King in the U.S. A true martyr’s victimization despite his innocence marks his persecutors as immoral, his courage despite the odds marks his cause as noble, and together these combine into a moving and mobilizing example for followers. We distinguish martyrs from heroes and victims, and show why some martyrs have powerful political impact while most do not. Elements of a viral martyrdom narrative include Gathering Clouds, Prophecy, Underdog, Mentor, True Friend, Right Choices, and Enemy Within.

The Arab Spring brought to the front pages of Western newspapers stories of people who were hailed as martyrs, including a Tunisian self-immolator who started the Arab Spring and an unintended victim of the Iranian regime’s crackdown on the Green revolution. We consider the psychological effects and the political pitfalls of invoking the power of martyrdom