Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences Capstones


Zahraa Akhwand

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The final capstone research project for the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences is an independent study experience. The paper is expected to:

  • Present a position that is unique, original and directly applies to the student's experience
  • Use primary sources or apply to a primary organization/agency
  • Conform to the style and format of excellent academic writing
  • Analyze empirical research data that is collected by the student or that has already been collected
  • Allow the student to demonstrate the competencies gained in the master’s program


The United States national strategy for counterterrorism highlights political needs to protect American interests both at home and on foreign land through direct physical combat, resource limitation, and recruitment prevention. The plan prioritizes identification and thwarting of rising threats against national security interests within and outside the United States. Efforts to understand terrorist organizations and address foreign threats have been extensive. More recent trends of terrorism point to domestic sources of radicalization. In a testament before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Federal Bureau of Investigation director Christopher Wray stated, “A majority of the domestic terrorism cases we've investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence."He noted domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists to be “persistent threats to the nation and U.S. interests abroad.”Research places the shift in national demographics and increased diversity as central motivations in the adoption of violence among non-immigrant American, white males, a group long ignored in anti-terror efforts.To effectively reduce extremist behavior, counterterrorism measures must reflect behavioral trends of terrorism, more specifically the demographics and motivations of extremists radicalized within the United States. This document highlights the changing dynamics of terrorism and calls for prevention measures that address motivations that drive violence. Further, this document notes the use of findings from the field of behavioral science as prevention measures against homegrown extremism. Findings-Demographic shifts within the United States are linked to the rise of extremism,-Addressing psycho-social drivers that lead to radicalization has potential to reduce extremist violence on a national and international scale. Recommendations -The United States national strategy for counterterrorism must address motivations for homegrown extremism among non-migrant males,-Capacity to discuss implications of shifting demographics must be built within non-migrant communities, -Further research into deradicalization interventions that address up-to-date extremist groups demographics are needed. Conclusion: The United States national strategy for counterterrorism aims to reduce violence and protect American interests both at home and abroad. Noting growing trends of radicalization on western soil, research and intervention within the nation must be included as a means of counterterrorism.



Date Posted: 15 November 2019