The basics: I am curious about what makes messages produced by political extremist groups persuasive. Terrorism is bad, so I try to understand, interpret, and stop it. Counter-terrorism is good, so I try to do work that helps it. I do like sandwiches, so I eat a lot of them. I also like hockey and Crossfit, both of which are sufficiently intense that I can relax after doing research on terrorist movements all day. Finally, I'm glad that you're interested in my work, and welcome you check out my background and interests below.
Persuasion and Social Influence
As civilized beings, we human beings do not need to resort to force to get others to see things our way. We can use language. I have always been intrigued by the power of words and whether, how, and under what conditions someone may come to agree with viewpoints about which they were originally unsure. So, I am generally curious about message features and psychological factors that affect a message's likelihood of changing someone's beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors.
Terrorism and Violent Political Organizations
On September 11, 2001, I was sleeping on a couch in my parents' house. I woke up and turned on the television right as United Airlines Flight 175 hit the second tower of the World Trade Center. After spending the next week scared and confused, I determined that I would do what I could to keep people from hurting others in this way. So now, I am interested in (a) understanding how people can be convinced to engage in terrorism, (b) developing messages that will counter violent extremism and fight terrorism at its source, and (c) directing those that would engage in political violence towards more peaceful forms of political engagement.
2006 - 2012
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
Dissertation: Fighting Words: The Persuasive Effect of Online Extremist Narrative on the Radicalization Process
2004 - 2006
M.A., University of Delaware
Thesis: Looking Beyond Biology: The Impact of Psychological Gender on Small Group Leadership Emergence
2000 - 2004
B.A., The College of New Jersey
Focus: Strategic Management and Organizational Behavior
I've always loved a good story. Even as a kid, one of my favorite things has always been to go to the movies and get lost in the story being told up on the big screen. This has carried over into my research, where I am interested in finding out how stories (in both written and multimedia formats) can change the ways people think about the world around them.
From the time I got my first computer at the age of 11, I've been amazed at everything it could be used for. This amazement only intensified once I got my first modem (at 14) and became able to connect with people and information from around the world. This interest has never really left me, and is reflected in the research questions I try to answer. I'm academically interested in how the dynamics of computer-mediated communication (especially persuasion and social influence) affect processes within and among groups -- particularly terrorist groups.