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The Three N Approach to Strategies for United States Government Information Operations


This paper seeks to answer the following question: What can we learn from the process of radicalization into extremism that can be applied to information operations to make them more successful? We contend that the 3 N model of radicalization applies more generally to the process whereby information is absorbed and is having impact. This process assumes that information absorption and impact are driven by motivation—that is, human needs. The 3 Ns refer to needs, narratives, and networks, which together help us understand why some individuals become radicalized. Radicalization, the internalization of an extremist narrative, is driven by exposure to an extremist narrative validated by a social network of trusted others who—through the narrative—provide a means to satisfy the crucial human need for significance. The need for significance refers to the innate human desire to feel that one matters, that one is respected, and that one has dignity. The US government has paid major attention in information operations to the role played by social networks and narratives. We recommend an additional focus in information operations on the needs that drive human cognition and behavior, primarily the need for significance, which is the preeminent social need.

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Full Citation:

Kaltenthaler, Karl and Arie Kruglanski. 2021. "The Three N Approach to Strategies for United States Government Information Operations." Strategic Multilayer Assessment (May), ed. Ali Jafri. https://nsiteam.com/the-three-n-approach-to-strategies-for-united-states-government-information-operations/.

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