Assessment Process

This section will describe the assessment process for VE and conflict and highlight the different types of tools that are currently available to support your assessments. Also, this section will provide additional resources on how to implement these tools in your environment.  Note that the featured tool – USAID’s Guide to the Drivers of Violent Extremism from 2009 – focuses on the “drivers” rather than the “dynamics” of violent extremism. Now, donors and practitioners consider the importance of examining VE dynamics in addition to the drivers.  The conflict assessment tools described below can be adapted to examine VE dynamics as well.   

What is this tool?

This guide is a key framework for much of USAID’s P/CVE programming. Although there is no set profile for violent extremists, and radicalization pathways are rarely straight lines, this guide and its push/pull model is one way of analyzing why people join VEOs.

How does this relate to your activity?

This framework helps you understand the factors that motivate people to join VEOs as well as how these factors may vary among different vulnerable groups. However, the model does not look at resilience factors within a community or factors that help strengthen an individual’s ability to resist the pull of violent extremism.  

When do you want to apply it?

This assessment should be conducted before you design your project. Understanding VE drivers will help you think about the factors that may be relevant for the specific community or group your project is trying to reach. This assessment framework is also very useful for designing interventions, off-ramp and reintegration, and rehabilitation programs to understand why people leave VE groups and what support they might need in order to do so.  

Analyzing the drivers of violent extremism: USAID’s Guide to the Drivers of VE
Find this in our resource library
Overview of the tool

The graphic below provides an overview of the push/pull model derived from USAID’s Guide to the Drivers of Violent Extremism. The graphic shows the enabling environment for VE, push factors (which impel individuals to join a VEO) and pull factors (features that individuals find attractive about the group).

Enabling environment
Push and Pull Factors

Here is a worksheet that will that will help you go through an exercise to analyze VE drivers in your context. Please see the recommended resources for more information on this framework and how to apply it.

While the push/pull model is a widely recognized framework for understanding radicalization, radicalization pathways to violence are very complex and require more than one analytical lens. Additional examples of frameworks that explore radicalization include:

Exploring Conflict Assessment Tools

Radicalization is not a linear process, particularly as people and groups respond to changes in the environment around them. To supplement an analysis of VE dynamics and drivers, it is important to think about the broader conflict dynamics. It is equally important to identify sources of resilience and connection that strengthen people's abilities to withstand the draw of VE. There are several different tools you can use to conduct a conflict analysis, and these can also be adapted to examine VE dynamics. 

Conflict Assessment Tools and Frameworks You Can Use

Dividers and Connectors Tool

This tool guides you in analyzing the dividers and connectors that damage or build relationships between groups within the communities you are engaging. This analysis is at the core of the Do No Harm framework and you can apply it regularly during implementation to ensure that your project is conflict sensitive.  



USAID’s Conflict Assessment Framework (CAF 2.0)

This is a tool for collecting and organizing data, identifying connections, and distilling patterns to diagnose current conflict dynamics and possible future trajectories. 


GPPAC Conflict Analysis Framework: Field Guidelines and Procedures

This conflict analysis has a number of helpful tools for implementers, listed below:  

  • Stakeholder or Actor Mapping A stakeholder mapping exercise seeks to list various stakeholders engaged in or affected by a conflict as well as visually analyzing their relationships to the conflict and to each another. 
  • Stakeholder Analysis and The Onion This tool is often used in negotiations between different parties to a conflict or when trying to understand a stakeholder’s relation to the conflict. 
  • Conflict Tree The conflict tree is similar to a problem tree in that it focuses on defining a core problem, unearthing the root causes to this problem, and identifying the effects. 
  • Conflict mapping using systems thinking This method combines stakeholder mapping and the conflict tree by recognizing that the causes and effects of a conflict are not linear and are often shaped by their relation to different sets of actors. 
Research and data collection

Many different data collection methodologies can help you to assess the drivers of VE and conflict, including quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (focus group discussions) methods. Each type of methodology has strengths and weaknesses. Often a combination of both methodologies (mixed-methods) leads to a more robust assessment. The appropriateness of such an approach may be shaped by the environment and your organization’s resources, research capabilities, familiarity with the context, and timelines. It is always recommended to engage researchers who are trained in these methodologies, understand the ethical implications of research involving human subjects, and have prior field-based research experience in sensitive and conflict-affected environments.

The Asia Foundation’s resource: Survey's and Countering Violent Extremism: A Practioner Guide provides a useful overview of quantitative versus qualitative methods in Table 1 below. Links to additional toolkits and guides for conducting research on VE can be found in the Resource Library.

Table 1: Quantitative vs. Qualitiative Methods

Surveys/Quantitative  Qualitative Methods 
Systematic data gathered from respondents by trained enumerators in a standardized and scripted way   Interviews, focus groups, observation, and written materials 
Quantify answers to enable mathematical analysis Rely on researchers to follow up on leads and more open-ended 
Aim to make claims that can be generalized to a broader population Focus on smaller number of individuals but in more depth
Enable us to see patterns in violent extremist events, behaviors, and attitudes. Illuminate processes and mechanisms of radicalization


Youth participatory assessment exercise

The first exercise focuses on analyzing factors affecting youth that may contribute to radicalization or other anti-social and potentially dangerous behavior.


The second exercise engages young people to analyze their communities by creating a profile for how communities shape young people’s lives.

Identifying and reducing bias
Everyone has different perspectives that could impact their ability to remain objective, so always consider whether biases may impact an assessment. This could mean a personal bias you may have or a respondent’s bias that impacts their answers to your questions.

Here are a few questions to consider before and during your research to reflect on potential biases that could influence the outcome of your assessment:

Reducing our bias
  • What motivates this assessment? Why we you conducting this assessment, and what is it meant to inform?
  • How does our background affect our analysis of facts? What are key assumptions, and have they been tested?
  • What can we miss or misinterpret because of our background? Are there alternative views?
  • What is the needed level(s) of analysis (national, community, individuals, etc.)?
  • How can we mitigate doing any potential harm in the way we conduct our assessment?
Identifying potential bias of our respondents and assessing source credibility
  • What are our sources of information? Has data been triangulated by other sources or means of data collection?
  • How many different types of stakeholders or stakeholder groups are engaged in our research? Are we seeking out different perspectives?
  • Who is providing us information? What is their motivation for providing us this information?
  • How did they access this information (i.e., do they have direct knowledge or is this hearsay from second- or third-hand sources)?
  • In what setting are they providing us this information? Could that impact what information they are providing to us and why they are providing us this information?