“Führer befiehl, wir folgen dir!” Charismatic Leaders in Extremist Groups

  • Michael Baurmann
  • Gregor Betz
  • Rainer Cramm


If we want to understand how extremist group ideologies are established, we have to comprehend the social processes which form the basis of the emergence and distribution of such beliefs. In our chapter, we present an innovative approach to examining these processes and explaining how they function: with the method of computer-based simulation of opinion formation, we develop heuristic explanatory models which help to generate new and interesting hypotheses. The focus is thereby not on individuals and their idiosyncrasies but on the dynamic mutual adaptation of beliefs in a group. These dynamics can produce an incremental establishment of “charismatic” opinion leaders and an increasing radicalization and alienation. A prototype of such a simulation model has produced promising first results which are presented and discussed.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Baurmann
    • 1
  • Gregor Betz
    • 2
  • Rainer Cramm
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Social SciencesHeinrich-Heine-University DusseldorfDüsseldorfGermany
  2. 2.Institute of PhilosophyKarlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)KarlsruheGermany

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