Tore Bjørgo, researcher of right-wing extremism, describes four main types of people who participate in violent extremism:
1) the ideological activists, who are often resourceful and idealistic and have ideology and politics as their main motivators. They typically inhabit leadership roles and often contribute to the radicalisation of their friends.
2) the drifters and followers are motivated by their social network and a wish to belong, rather than ideology. They often crave recognition, acceptance or protection.
3) the adventurers are sensation-seekers, prone to be attracted to violence, weapons, uniforms and battle. They often fantasise about heroic roles, masculine ideals and dream of being regarded as heroes.
4) the socially frustrated often turn to extremism due to personal issues such as a traumatic past, a difficult family background, marginalisation, substance abuse, unemployment etc.
Some extremists fit the characteristics of several of these profiles. The profiles are used to tailor preventive measures aimed at people at risk of radicalisation.
Bjørgo, T. (2015, 18. februar). Hvem blir terrorister? NRK. https://www.nrk.no/ytring/hvem-blir-terrorister_-1.12215852
Bjørgo, T. (2017). Veier inn i voldelig ekstremisme – og ut igjen. Læringsressurser: fordypningstekst. 22. juli-senteret. https://files.nettsteder.regjeringen.no/wpuploads01/blogs.dir/251/files/2019/05/Veier-inn-i-voldelig-ekstremisme-%E2%80%93-og-ut-igjen.pdf
Bjørgo, T. & Gjelsvik, I.M. (2015). Forskning på forebygging av radikalisering og voldelig ekstremisme: En kunnskapsstatus. Oslo: Politihøgskolen. http://hdl.handle.net/11250/284584