Predicting political hotspots: Professors' global model forecasts civil unrest against governments

Jan 19, 2011

The forecast for predicting the next political hotspots could be much more accurate because of a model developed by two Kansas State University professors and a colleague in New York.

The model, named the Predictive Societal Indicators of Radicalism Model of Domestic Political Violence Forecast, is currently five for five in predicting which countries will likely experience an escalation in domestic political violence against their governments within the next five years.

"So far it's been pretty accurate," said Sam Bell, assistant professor of political science at K-State. Bell created the with Amanda Murdie, K-State assistant professor of political science, and David Cingranelli, professor of political science at Binghamton University, Binghamton, N.Y. It was developed for Milcord, an Open Innovation company that builds knowledge management solutions for federal agencies.

To date the model has successfully predicted civil unrest in Peru, Ireland, Ecuador, Italy and most recently, Tunisia. Iran is currently at the top of the list.

"What's interesting is that while our model predicts violence in countries like Honduras and Iran, it's also predicting it in western democracies," Murdie said. "For example, our model predicted violence in Ireland. That happened recently due to the International Monetary Fund ."

To create the forecast model, the researchers built a database using publicly available information on 150 countries. It contains the frequency and intensity of domestic political violence from 1990-2009. According to Bell, this violence includes anything from a sit-in that turns into a physical altercation to an embassy bombing.

Although other forecast models have been created, this is one of the most encompassing, Murdie said. It accounts for factors like repression, governmental aid to nongovernmental organizations, aid to countries to help build security, and Internet and mobile phone usage.

In order to forecast domestic political violence, three concepts are accounted for: coercion, coordination and capacity.

Coercion is defined by violations of physical rights. This heightens the motivation of protestors, according to Murdie.

"I think that was one of the biggest findings from our model: that adhering to basic limits the political violence," she said. "In covering all these countries and in looking at this passage of time, we find that human rights crackdowns still hurt a country the most, even to this day.

"There's this tendency for government to be reactionary and crack down on political rights in order to suppress political violence, but we find that crackdowns lead to this mobilization effect where people take to the streets," she said. "The human rights crackdowns don't stop insurgency; they help fuel it."

The second concept, coordination, is how easily a domestic group can mobilize.

"Two summers ago in Iran we really saw the YouTube and Twitter effect in regard to a population's ability to coordinate and increase the level of violence," Murdie said. This mobile coordination can either quickly diffuse or escalate the level of violence.

Capacity, the third factor, is the ability of a country to project itself throughout its territory, thus limiting the intensity of domestic violence against government.

Although the current model operates at a macro level, Bell said it's possible to isolate certain countries and aggregate a much smaller time frame from the current five-year forecast. The researchers have also thought about using the database to create a risk assessment for civilian terrorism against other citizens.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: A list of the top 37 countries projected to experience civil unrest between now and 2014 and updates on forecast accuracy can be found online at radicalism.milcord.com/blog

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Turkish health workers condone wife beating

Dec 13, 2007

Domestic violence is an inherent problem in Turkey, and healthcare workers are doing little to combat the prevalence of wife beating, according to research published in the online open access journal, BMC Public Health. A sur ...

'You're not a victim of domestic violence, are you?'

Nov 05, 2007

Doctors who ask the right questions in the right way can successfully encourage abused women to reveal that they are victims of domestic violence, even in a hectic emergency department, a team of researchers from the United ...

Why rebel groups attack civilians

May 29, 2008

In civil war, rebel groups often target civilians despite the fact that their actual target is the government and that they are often dependent on the support of the civilian groups they attack. This may seem illogical, but ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

COCO
not rated yet Jan 20, 2011
hard to believe the US with its No Banker Left behind fiscal policy - engaging in endless immoral wars and legendary voting fraud would not be on the list - How about trying to be #1 guys!

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.