Fighting Violent Extremism and Corruption with Narrative Intervention: Evidence from a Field Experiment in West Africa
Narrative media interventions are increasingly used to change behaviors, social norms and attitudes, including in addressing corruption and violent extremism. The present study examines the effects of a narrative intervention in Burkina Faso aimed to denounce extremist violence, raise awareness about the importance of police-community collaboration to curb violence, and increase people’s efficacy beliefs to impact change in their community and encourage participation in local governance. A cluster randomized controlled trial with two arms (treatment vs. control) conducted in 132 villages in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso (N = 2,904 participants) examined the effects of the narrative intervention. Compared to control, the narrative intervention reduced justification of violence, increased behavioral intentions to collaborate with the police, and increased prioritization of addressing VE. The intervention did not influence beliefs or attitudes toward the police (e.g., trust, fairness) or beliefs about police collaboration. The intervention also increased self and collective efficacy beliefs to impact change, and impacted social norms and behavioral strategies to fight corruption. Content analysis of the narrative intervention and participants’ reception and discussion of the intervention provide insights on the processes driving the intervention’s influence. The findings contribute to the literature on narrative media interventions, and shed light on change pathways.
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