Incels (involuntarily celibates) are an online community of men who feel disenfranchised because they are unable to find a romantic and sexual partner. Incels tend to blame society for placing too much value in physical appearance and for endowing women with too much power in mate selection, a grievance that sometimes translates into violent misogyny. Mass-casualty Incel attacks have led the security services in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. to classify Incels as a violent extremist threat. However, little empirical research is available to inform the understanding of Incels, or to qualify their potential danger to the public.
Filling this gap, this study presents an important empirical datum by reaching beyond media headlines and online activity, to assess Incel ideology, mental health, and radical intentions through in-depth surveys of 274 active Incels. Most Incels in our study reported mental health problems and psychological trauma of bullying or persecution. Incel ideology was only weakly correlated with radicalization, and ideology and radicalization were differentially correlated with mental health measures. Most Incels in the study rejected violence. The discussion considers implications of these findings for detection, policing, and non-criminal interventions focused on the Incel community.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Sophia Moskalenko, Juncal Fernández-Garayzábal González, Naama Kates, Jesse Morton