Walking Out on Hate: A Qualitative Investigation of How and Why White Supremacists Quit Hate Groups

Jackson B. Liguori, Lisa B. Spanierman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Through in-depth, semistructured interviews with former White supremacists (N = 9), the authors explored how and why former White supremacists left their hate groups, and why some chose to then speak out against their former racist ideologies. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA; Smith et al., 2009), the authors identified nine themes related to the process of leaving one’s hate group and becoming an antihate activist. Participants initially left their hate groups because of both painful and encouraging interactions with members of marginalized communities, which led to the disintegration of their White supremacist ideological convictions. Upon exiting, participants navigated threats to their safety, experienced shifts in their social networks, encountered new emotional states, and healed through introspection and connection with others. Finally, participants connected with former White supremacists who had become antihate activists, spoke out publicly against hate, and developed antihate activist identities. The authors offer directions for future research, as well as provide implications for clinical interventions supporting hate group members through their exit processes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)389-402
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of counseling psychology
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2022


    • Antiracism
    • Deradicalization
    • Racism
    • Social justice
    • White supremacy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Social Psychology


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