Keynote talks

Arie W. Kruglanski

Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis Reconsidered:
On the Psychology of Significance-Driven Hostility

One of the oldest scientific theories of human hostility is the frustration-aggression hypothesis, advanced in 1939. This theory has had considerable empirical support and is alive and well today. In this talk I examine major findings and concepts addressed in psychological research on hostile aggression and offer an integrative conception whereby hostility is a primordial means for establishing one’s sense of significance and mattering, thus addressing a fundamental social-psychological need. Our model yields four hypotheses: (1) frustration will elicit hostile aggression proportionately to the extent that the frustrated goal served the individual’s need for significance, (2) the impulse to aggress in response to significance loss will be enhanced in conditions that limit the individual’s motivation/capacity to engage in extensive cognitive processing, (3) significance-reducing frustration will elicit hostile aggression unless the impulse to aggress is substituted by a non-aggressive means of significance restoration, (4) an opportunity for significance gain should increase the impulse to aggress. These hypotheses are supported by extant data as well as novel research findings in real-life contexts. They have important implications for understanding human aggression and the conditions under which it is likely to be manifested and reduced.

Arie W. Kruglanski is Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland. He received the National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award, the Donald Campbell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Social Psychology, the University of Maryland Regents Award for Scholarship and Creativity and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Awards from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, and from the Society for the Science of Motivation. He was Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, and is Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. He was editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and AE of the American Psychologist. He also served as President of the Society for the Study of Motivation. Kruglanski published over 400 articles, chapters and books on motivated social cognition, served on NAS panels on the social and behavioral aspects of terrorism and co-founded the National Center of Excellence for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism. He is presently the PI on a MINERVA grants on Syrian refugees’ potential for radicalization, and on climate refugees in Asia and South America.

Sophia Moskalenko

The role of conspiracy theories and ideology in mass radicalization

In the recent past, the advent of the Internet, social media, and mobile devices have fundamentally altered radicalization. The modern communication capabilities simplified and amplified the spread of radicalizing narratives, including conspiracy theories, radical ideologies and propaganda. Among consequences of this change are the emergence of online radical groups such as QAnon and Incels, as well as the widespread reach of Russian government propaganda that preceded and accompanied Russia’s large-scale war against Ukraine.

Conspiracy theories and ideology that birthed QAnon, Incels and pro-Russian radicalism (Rashism) all contain pseudo-scientific claims that strain credulity, at times bordering on the ridiculous. Another commonality is the disconnect between the ideology in each of these movements and action by its members.

The field of radicalization research has been circling the issue of ideology for decades, but major stumbling blocks to our understanding of ideology remain. I will discuss these, as well as what I think are productive ways to conceptualize ideology, and how best to address the radicalization that it represents.

Sophia Moskalenko is a social and clinical psychologist and a Research Fellow at Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Group at Georgia State University. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, her work has focused on the psychology of radicalization, martyrdom, mass identity and conspiracy theories. At the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (NC-START), she has led projects commissioned by the Department of Defence, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State. She serves as a consultant to the European Commission, to the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and to the United Nations’ Office of Counterterrorism.

Dr. Moskalenko has co-authored several books, including award-winning Friction: How conflict radicalizes them and us (2016); The Marvel of Martyrdom: The power of self-sacrifice in the selfish world (2019); Radicalization: what Everyone Needs to Know (2020) and Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon (2021).

Barbara Krahé, University of Potsdam, Germany

Aggression among College Students in 15 Countries:
Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Evidence on the prevalence and risk factors of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration has been accumulated mostly in the United States. Research from other countries remains scarce despite the recognition that sexual aggression is a worldwide problem that is intimately connected to cultural norms and practices. This talk will summarize a program of research conducted in 15 countries from Europe, Asia, and Latin America to examine sexual aggression among college students. The studies are based on a unified methodology, use state-of the-art longitudinal designs, and adopt a gender-inclusive approach, including participants of different sexual orientations and experience backgrounds and collecting both victimization and perpetration reports from all participants. The prevalence data of female and male victimization and perpetration reveal that sexual aggression is widespread, but also shows substantial variation between countries even when the same methodologies are used Longitudinal studies testing prospective predictors of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration highlight the key role of sexual scripts for consensual sexual encounters in understanding sexual aggression. The talk will conclude with a presentation of the intervention program “KisS” (“competence in sexual situations”) developed and evaluated in our team and discuss perspectives for a research agenda including country-level risk factors of sexual aggression.

Barbara Krahé is Professor of Social Psychology and held the chair of Social Psychology at the University of Potsdam until her retirement in April 2021. Her research focusses on sexual aggression, media violence and aggression, and the development of aggressive behavior. In her most recent project KisS (Competence in Sexual Situations), she developed an online intervention to prevent sexual aggression among young adults. She was President of the International Society for Research on Aggression from 2018 to 2020 and is Associate Editor of its journal, Aggressive Behavior. Her books include Sexual Assault and the Justice Gap: A Question of Attitude (2008; with Jennifer Temkin) and The Social Psychology of Aggression (3rd ed. 2021). She received the German Psychology Prize 2015 for her work on aggression and is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Tina Malti

Caring about Not-Caring:
Using the Science of Social-Emotional Development to Prevent Violence

The absence of violence against children is a milestone of civilized society and shows that we care. Similarly, incidences of violence by youth, including severe cases with devastating consequences, speak to the urgent need to address exposure to violence in childhood and adolescence. How can we best tackle the challenge? The science of social-emotional development offers a strengths-based, humanistic perspective to address violence. In this talk, I will argue that a focus on social-emotional protective factors can help prevent and reduce violence by, and against, children and youth. I will begin by introducing the concept of social-emotional development and its core features. Next, I will present empirical findings to illustrate links between social-emotional processes and violence across childhood and adolescence. Then, research-informed attempts to prevent violence through social-emotional development are described, and I will summarize select findings from intervention studies aimed at preventing violence. Lastly, I will draw conclusions for a future agenda of developmentally informed intervention research and discuss recommendations for policy.

Tina Malti is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a registered clinical psychologist, and founding director of the Laboratory for Social-Emotional Development and Intervention as well as the Centre for Child Development, Mental Health, and Policy. Her research focuses on the social-emotional foundations, pathways, and mechanisms of aggression and kindness in children. Dr. Malti and her team have published over 200 peer-reviewed publications, using this research to innovate interventions that reduce aggression and enhance kindness and mental health in children facing adversities, such as exposure to violence, war, and trauma. She is incoming president of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development and is also a distinguished Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions 7 and 53) and the Association of Psychological Science. She has served on numerous expert advisory panels and works closely with national and international agencies to provide and act on evidence to improve the development of all children and reduce exposure to violence.