Third-Person Effect of ISIS's Recruitment Propaganda: Online Political Self-Efficacy and Social Media Activism

Guy J. Golan, Joon Soo Lim


The global rise of ISIS has been attributed by many experts to the extremist group’s successful recruiting efforts online. Recognizing the need to curb the terror organization’s social media engagement, Western governments have called for greater content restrictions on social media platforms as well as the cooperation of individual citizens in countermessaging ISIS online. This study examines the third-person effect regarding ISIS online recruiting and the potential behavioral outcomes that may result from perceived self-other gaps. A survey of 1,035 U.S. adults provided support for significant relationships between third-person perceptions and support for both restrictive action and social media activism. Study results are discussed in the context of theory building and policy recommendations.


third-person effect, terrorism, propaganda, social media, recruitment, militant Islamism, social distance

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