Pathways to sympathies for violent protest and terrorism

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Radicalisation is proposed to explain why some individuals begin to support and take part in violent extremism. However, there is little empirical population research to inform prevention, and insufficient attention to the role of psychiatric vulnerabilities.


To test the impact of depressive symptoms, adverse life events and political engagement on sympathies for violent protest and terrorism (SVPT).


A cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women from two English cities. Weighted, multivariable, logistic regression yielded population estimates of association (odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals) against a binary outcome of SVPT derived from a three-group solution following cluster analysis.


Depressive symptoms were associated with a higher risk of SVPT (OR = 2.59, 95% CI 1.59–4.23, P < 0.001), but mediated little of the overall effects of life events and political engagement, which were associated with a lower risk of SVPT (death of a close friend: OR = 0.24, 95% CI 0.07–0.74; donating money to a charity: OR = 0.52, 95% CI 0.3–0.9).


Independent of SVPT associations with depressive symptoms, some expressions of social connectedness (measured as life events and political engagement), are associated with a lower risk of SVPT.

Declaration of interest


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