Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Amber M. Gaffney, PhD

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Benjamin J. Anjewierden, MA

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Uncertainty-identity, Extremism, Social identity

Subject Categories



Navigating a post-pandemic society, climate-change, political conflict and international wars have become part of most people’s daily existence. These crises are sources of societal and personal uncertainty. An effective method of uncertainty reduction comes from people’s entrenched group memberships (e.g. nation, political party). Unfortunately, groups with extreme norms and ideologies provide rigid structures that aid in uncertainty reduction. From white nationalists to anti-fascists, the political arena is tumultuous to the point of explosion. These eruptions can be violent, even deadly, and are becoming too familiar and recognizable. Extremism poses both international and domestic threats. There is no nation or society that is safe from the havoc it causes. Understanding the road to supporting and participating in extremist activities is the key to diverting followers onto a safer path. When individuals find themselves uncertain about their identity, the groups to which they belong offer clearly defined roles. The greater the uncertainty, the more desirable a close knit and clearly defined group becomes. Distinct groups with clear boundaries of membership, strong leadership, and explicit values provide individuals with a sense of identity and purpose.

Citation Style




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