On the brink: identifying psychological indicators of societal destabilization in Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea
van den Berg, H.
Contemporary hostile actors are increasingly attempting to destabilize targeted states’ civilian domains via malign influence activities. With this civilian focus, societal destabilization is at least partly psychological. However, empirical evidence of a psychological dimension to societal destabilization is lacking. We assess the potential of five pertinent psychological factors to indicate societal destabilization using data captured about citizens living in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea, prior to the outbreak of conflict in 2014. Analysts state that Russian influence activities contributed to societal destabilization in these regions. Using preregistered analyses, we contrast the self-reported levels of our selected psychological factors in these citizens against the self-reported levels of citizens from contextually and culturally similar societies. We confirmed that levels of political and social trust were significantly lower, and the perception of economic instability was significantly higher in citizens of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea. Although observational, the results point to the relevance of these psychological factors for understanding societal destabilization provoked by influence activities. © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
To reference this document use:
Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict Pathways toward terrorism and genocide, 15 (15), 40-54