Psychological theories of mobilization tend to focus on explaining people’s motivations for action, rather than mobilization (“activation”) processes. To investigate the online behaviors associated with mobilization, we compared the online communications data of 26 people who subsequently mobilized to right-wing extremist action and 48 people who held similar extremist views but did not mobilize (N = 119,473 social media posts). In a three-part analysis, involving content analysis (Part 1), topic modelling (Part 2), and machine learning (Part 3), we showed that communicating ideological or hateful content was not related to mobilization, but rather mobilization was positively related to talking about violent action, operational planning, and logistics. Our findings imply that to explain mobilization to extremist action, rather than the motivations for action, theories of collective action should extend beyond how individuals express grievances and anger, to how they equip themselves with the “know-how” and capability to act.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Publication statusAcceptance date - 10 Jun 2024


The authors thank Dr Lukasz Piwek for supporting the acquisition of the data and Cassie Lowery for her assistance in coding the qualitative data.

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