Evaluating an Interactive Film on the Prevention of Political Radicalization


  • Axel Ebers Leibniz Universität Hannover
  • Stephan L. Thomsen Leibniz Universität Hannover


Preventing Political Radicalization, Interactive Film, Gamification, Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)


The functionality of social media permits (and maybe fosters) an increase in political radicalization, which causes immense social harm. In response, authorities have started using social media for prevention but empirical evidence on the effectiveness is scarce The present study evaluates the effects of an interactive film distributed in social media that aims to reduce the individual level of radicalism in attitudes and radicalization intentions. During the film, viewers have to express their opinion on increasingly radical statements by clicking popup buttons. Depending on their opinions, the plot of the film takes a different route. For identification of causal effects, the evaluation uses a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a two-week follow-up. The empirical results show that the film immediately reduces the level of radicalism in attitudes by 12% and radicalization intentions by 15% of a standard deviation. After two weeks, these effects are still persistent but fade out a little in the general population. There are stronger and more persistent effects among the subgroups of 18-24 year-olds, women, and people on the left of the political spectrum. Because these subgroups resemble the characteristics of the protagonists, we speculate that social identification enhanced treatment effects. Cognitive dissonance, on the other hand, may explain why people on the right of the spectrum did not react to the film. The findings demonstrate the importance of target-group oriented design and early prevention.


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