Intergroup conflict escalation leads to more extremism

Meysam Alizadeh, Alin Coman, Michael Lewis, Claudio Cioffi-Revilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Empirical findings in intergroup conflict literature show that individuals that hold beliefs that include differentiation from out-groups become radicalized as intergroup tensions escalate. They also show that differentiation is proportional to tension escalation. In this paper, we present and demonstrate an agent-based model that captures these findings to better understand the effect of perceived intergroup conflict escalation on the average number of emergent extremists and opinion clusters in the population. The proposed model builds on the 2-dimensional Bounded Confidence Model proposed by Huet et al (2008). Results show that the average number of extremists is negatively correlated with intolerance threshold and positively correlated with changes in opinion movement when two agents reject each other's belief. In other words, the number of extremists grows with increasing conflict between groups. We also found that intergroup conflict leads to lower opinion diversity in the population when compared to less conflictual situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


  • Bounded Confidence
  • Differentiation
  • Extremism
  • Intergroup Conflict
  • Opinion Dynamics
  • Radicalization


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