Participation Motives and Abuse Prevention for Non-State Armed Actors

Significant evidence suggests that individuals are motivated by moral sentiments to join armed groups and express them using violence – to redress grievances and recover dignity lost as a result of victimization and abuse by other groups. These sentiments can drive revenge and ingroup-outgroup barriers, leading to outgroup civilian abuse. At the same time, my own qualitative evidence suggests that such participation motives are subject to erosion–being in an armed group offers opportunities for extortion, and greed can erode moral sentiments and commitment to the cause over time, such that grievance turns to greed. This erosion may lead in turn to negative behaviors that also effect ingroup civilians. This project examines the (d)evolution of motivation for active militia fighters and designs, and tests the effectiveness, of interventions aimed at reducing civilian abuse by active militia fighters. The study builds upon, and benefits logistically from, an ongoing study that examines who joins armed groups and why.

RFP Cycle:
Fifth Round (Fall 2019)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Raul Sanchez de la Sierra
  • Hilary Yu
  • Full project