Using Quantitative Content Analysis To Assess the Likelihood of Terrorist Violence

Friday, February 18, 2011: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
145B (Washington Convention Center )
Content analysis has been used to study a variety of topics ranging from whether an individual is lying, to whether leaders will take their nations to war. Numerous studies have demonstrated that language choices convey information that goes beyond the explicit content of the words being used. In recent years, techniques for finding meaning in language have expanded dramatically as modern computing has enabled new approaches to coding linguistic data. This symposium will include researchers associated with the Comparative Case Studies of Radical Rhetoric project, an effort funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division to determine whether the analysis of rhetoric can help distinguish between radical groups that do and do not engage in violence. As part of this effort, researchers collected documents issued by four groups: Central al Qa’ida (AQ), al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA). AQ and AQAP are known for their extremist violence. Hizb ut-Tahrir and MIRA maintain the same ideology and goals as AQ and AQAP but have not engaged in terrorism. Documents from these groups were coded using a variety of manual and automated coding systems based on social and behavioral science theory. The three symposium participants will present results from their project-supported efforts.
Allison G. Smith, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Allison G. Smith, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Lucian Gideon Conway III, University of Montana
The Complexity of Terrorist Rhetoric
James W. Pennebaker, University of Texas
Using Computerized Text Analysis Methods To Assess Threats
Antonio Sanfilippo, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Framing Words of Violence
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