Abstract for: Role of Cultural Scripts in Public Mass Killings: Empirical Observations & Simulations of School Shootings and Terror Contagion

Terrorism is a controversial and concerning form of predatory mass violence causing a range of harms from physical to psychological. The terror contagion hypothesis proposes violent radicalization leading to terrorism operates as a social contagion. Previously we simulated a range of contingencies required for a seed event to spark a contagion and testable predictions of observable characteristics. In this paper we present initial observations from a dataset of over 250 incidents. Using a combination of qualitative comparative analysis and simulation science we evaluate ten contagions, three active and seven inactive including Columbine-style school shootings, Great White Replacement Theory attacks; Inceldom; and ISIS vehicular attacks. We found that seed event contingencies do seem to influence both spread and severity of contagion; that discernible, distinct, and differentiable elements of template ideology and method replicate within contagions; that these contagions transmit within global high-risk populations defined less by nationality and more by shared self-similarity, notoriety, and grievance; and that without self-similarity and notoriety, even high casualty seed events fail to spark contagion.