Lance Hunter, PhD profile photo

Lance Hunter, PhD

Associate Professor of Political Science


Dr. Lance Hunter studies the connection between terrorism and political stability in democracies.









Image for vimeo videos on 3Qs with Dr. Lance Hunter on terrorism and elections



Hunter is an assistant professor of political science with a background in international relations. His research focuses on how terrorist attacks influence politics in democratic countries and how political decisions within countries affect conflicts worldwide. His work has appeared in journals such as: Journal of Peace Research, Terrorism and Political Violence, Party Politics, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Armed Forces and Society, Conflict, Security and Development, and the International Journal of Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies. Hunter teaches courses in international relations, security studies, and research methods. He received his PhD in Political Science from Texas Tech University in 2011.

Areas of Expertise

PoliticsTerrorismInternational RelationsVotingCivil Liberties


  • Augusta University Political Science Club : Co-Advisor
  • Augusta University ONE Organization : Advisor
  • Augusta University Cyber Institute: Advisory Committee Member
  • Augusta University Honors Program: Committee Member

Media Appearances

Terrorism Charges for Mass Shooters? Experts Are Divided

The Trace  online


The 15-year-old student accused of fatally shooting his classmates at Michigan’s Oxford High School in November is inching toward a trial to determine his guilt on 24 felony charges. One of them — committing an act of terrorism — has rarely been applied in the context of mass shootings, so the move has reignited a debate over whether such violence should be treated as terrorism in the eyes of the law. Lance Hunter, an associate professor of international relations at Augusta University, said many scholars and policymakers do not consider mass shootings a form of terrorism because they think of them as an expansion of day-to-day criminal activity. “Terrorist acts are viewed more so as hijackings or bombings; novel acts that fall outside of criminal activity,” Hunter said. “I think the action — the shooting versus a bomb — is a large part of how people view it.”

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Local political science professor shares his study on mass shootings

WRDW  tv


There have been more than 200 U.S. mass shootings in 2022, but only a handful of those will be labeled ‘terrorism’. We spoke to a local professor about when mass shootings are classified as acts of terrorism. Dr. Lance Hunter, associate professor in political science, Augusta University. “Taking these mass shootings seriously as potential forms of terrorism when they fit the definition is so important to try and stop them,” he said.

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Was it terrorism? Local expert weighs in on mass shooting in Buffalo

WJBF  tv


The mass shooting that took place in Buffalo on Saturday, is considered a hate crime. But, an expert at Augusta University said it also fits the definition of terrorism. Dr. Lance Hunter is an Associate Professor of Political Science at AU. He spent years researching mass shootings and terrorism, and eventually published his findings. He explained an event must fit three criteria to be considered an act of terror. It must be a violent event, be motivated by radical political, social, or religious ideologies and have a target “enemy” or “other”.

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When it comes to potential violence spurred on by social media, can governments prevent this by restrictions of its use?

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Is the time spent on social media directly related to potential civil disobedience and violence?

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Could the Buffalo shooting be a new phase of terrorism here in the United States in particular?

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Domestic terrorism, incumbency, and legislative vote shares

Sage Journals

Lance Y Hunter, Joseph W. Robbins, Martha H. Ginn


A small number of studies have examined the effect terrorism has on political ideology and vote choice cross-nationally. However, scholars yet to understand how terrorist attack type influences vote choice based on the political ideology of incumbent governments. Thus, we examine the effect domestic and transnational terrorist attacks have on vote choice in legislative elections while accounting for the ideology of the incumbent government. In examining 56 democracies from 1975 – 2014 from various regions and levels of development, we find that domestic attacks, and not transnational, significantly effect both right and left party votes shares when the incumbent party in government is of a similar ideology. We attribute these results to the perception of instability that accompanies domestic attacks and the effects it has on voters’ evaluations of political parties. These findings have important implications for understanding how terrorism influences electoral behavior.

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The effects of COVID-19 on domestic and international security in democratic and authoritarian regimes

Cambridge University Press

Kristien Topping, Yousef Hosny, Lance Y Hunter, Yufan Yang


While numerous studies have examined how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected health care systems, supply chains, and economies, we do not understand how the pandemic has impacted the security of democratic and authoritarian states from a global standpoint. Thus, this study examines how COVID-19 has affected the security of democratic and authoritarian regimes. In conducting a historical, qualitative review of the security effects of the pandemic, we find that COVID-19 significantly affected domestic and international security for democratic and authoritarian states in both similar and varied ways. Additionally, the manner in which states responded to the pandemic was often conditioned by their regime type and by the nature of the governing leadership during the pandemic. These findings have important implications in considering how COVID-19 affected the security of democratic and authoritarian states, how regime type shapes government responses to infectious disease outbreaks, and how democratic and authoritarian states may respond to future pandemics.

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Destabilizing effects of terrorism on party system stability

Terrorism and Political Violence


In this work, we surmise that terrorist attacks have important implications for two commonly used measures of party system stability. The results of a pooled, cross-sectional time series analysis confirm our hypothesis: deadly attacks proximate to elections destabilize party systems; in addition, the level of democratic consolidation within states also influences the degree that fatal terrorist attacks affect party system stability.

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Does accountability matter? How electoral systems affect conflict initiation

Conflict, Security & Development


In this study we contend that legislators are more accountable individually in candidate-centred electoral systems which impacts a state’s decision to initiate interstate conflict.

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Military Spending and Electoral Systems: A Reconsideration

Armed Forces & Society


We present a pooled time-series cross-sectional analysis of military spending and electoral institutions and we find that party-based electoral systems, rather than majoritarian ones, foment higher military spending levels—which we attribute to these systems’ predilection for public goods spending.

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Democracy and cyberconflict: how regime type affects state-sponsored cyberattacks

Journal Of Cyber Policy

Dr. Craig Albert, Dr. Lance Hunter, Eric Garrett, Josh Rutland


A large body of research in international relations has focused on the relationship between regime type (i.e., the degree a nation is democratic or authoritarian) and traditional military conflict between states. However, to date, no research has examined how regime type affects conflict in the cyber domain. Thus, we attempt to analyze the effect regime type has on the initiation of state-sponsored cyberattacks. We examine 143 states from 2005 - 2013 utilizing cyber data on known state-sponsored cyberattacks taken from the Council on Foreign Relations Cyber Operations Tracker dataset (CFR-COTD) and economic, political, military, and social data collected by the authors. In conducting a cross-sectional, time series analysis we find that democratic institutions have a pacifying effect on the initiation of state-sponsored cyberattacks.

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Epidemiological intelligence fusion centers: health security and COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic

Taylor & Francis Online

Craig Douglas Albert, Alejandro Amado Baez, Lance Hunter, John Heslen, Josh Rutland


Research on health security has focused on how many different political, economic, social, and health-related factors affect disease containment within states. However, largely missing from this scholarship is an examination of the role public health intelligence plays in limiting the spread of disease. Thus, this study focuses on the effect epidemiological intelligence fusion centers have on disease prevalence. We conduct a case study analysis of the Dominican Republic’s use of epidemiological intelligence fusion centers during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide policy recommendations for other states to follow.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Artificial Intelligence, and Domestic Conflict

Taylor & Francis Online

Lance Y. Hunter, Craig Albert, Josh Rutland & Chris Hennigan


An emerging field of scholarship in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computing posits that AI has the potential to significantly alter political and economic landscapes within states by reconfiguring labor markets, economies, and political alliances, leading to possible societal disruptions. Thus, this study examines the potential destabilizing economic and political effects AI technology can have on societies and the resulting implications for domestic conflict based on research within the fields of political science, sociology, economics, and artificial intelligence. In addition, we conduct interviews with 10 international AI experts from think tanks, academia, multinational technology companies, the military, and cyber to assess the possible disruptive effects of AI and how they can affect domestic conflict. Lastly, the study offers steps governments can take to mitigate the potentially destabilizing effects of AI technology to reduce the likelihood of civil conflict and domestic terrorism within states.

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The Effects of Social Media, Elites, and Political Polarization on Civil Conflict

Taylor & Francis Online

Lance Y. Hunter, Glen Biglaiser


Although prior research has investigated how social, economic, and political factors affect civil conflict, empirical scholarship has yet to consider how social media impacts civil conflict. Using cross-national research for up to 157 states from 2000–2019, this study examines the effect social media has on civil conflict. We find that more time spent on social media, greater social media penetration (i.e. the number of users), and the specific manner elites use social media are associated with an increased number and severity of civil conflicts. We also carry out mediation analysis and see that elite use of social media to organize offline political activities, government elites’ dissemination of false information, and political party elites’ dissemination of disinformation are all correlated with an increase in political polarization, and polarization raises the likelihood of civil conflict. Our results indicate the ways social media affects political violence, showing how different communication technologies can serve to exacerbate civil conflict under certain conditions.

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The effects of social media on domestic terrorism

Taylor & Francis Online

Lance Y. Hunter, Glen Biglaiser, Ronald J. McGauvran, Leann Collins


Much qualitative research has drawn an association between social media and domestic terrorism, with the studies reaching different conclusions. However, few empirical studies have evaluated whether the surge in social media participation affects domestic terrorist events. Controlling for common explanations in the literature, we conduct a cross-national, time-series analysis of up to 151 countries from 2000 to 2019 to assess the impact of social media penetration on domestic terrorism. We find that greater social media penetration increases the likelihood of domestic terrorism in countries as it supports extremists’ ability to recruit, mobilize, and train terrorists. Using mediation analysis, we also find that greater social media penetration amplifies online and political polarization, increasing the likelihood of domestic terrorism events. Our work indicates the possible mechanisms linking social media and domestic terrorism and the need to develop and apply appropriate counterterrorism strategies to mitigate terrorist operations.

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Understanding the cyber-victimization of young people: A test of routine activities theory


Candice E. Griffith, Melissa Tezlaff Bemiller, Lance Y. Hunter


Research on cybervictimization focuses on a variety of behaviors. The present study focuses on four behaviors: hacking, having obscene photos shared, bullying, and stalking/trespass to test the Lifestyles Routine Activities Theory (LRAT). Much of the research on cybervictimization uses LRAT to help explain how some groups of individuals are susceptible to becoming victims. We surveyed young adults, aged 18-25, using a paid Qualtrics sample and a convenience sample from a southern university. Using binominal logistic regression, we test the likelihood of victimization across the various behaviors and with the three main elements of LRAT, motivated offender, suitable target, and absence a capable guardian. We found that online dating was the most likely way to be exposed to a motivated offender, that visiting explicit websites made one a suitable target, and knowing how to set privacy settings helped guard against victimization.

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The Double-Edged Sword of Foreign Direct Investment on Domestic Terrorism

Sage Journals

Glen Biglaiser, Lance Y. Hunter, Ronald J. McGauvran,


This paper studies the effects of foreign direct investment (FDI) on domestic terrorism. Using a cross-national, time-series analysis of 114 countries from 1991–2017, and employing structural equation modeling to test a number of mediating factors, we find that the impact of FDI on domestic terrorism depends on the host state’s level of economic development. For host countries at higher-income levels, FDI boosts economic development and global integration promoting prosperity, increasing counterterrorism resources, and reducing the economic grievances that foster terrorism. Conversely, for lower-income host countries, increased FDI fuels higher domestic terrorism, as it intensifies clashes between traditional and modern elements within society, raises economic discrimination, heightens perceptions of economic insecurity, and subsequently leads to grievances directed against the state. Our results indicate a curvilinear relationship between FDI inflows and domestic terrorism, suggesting that FDI produces a double-edged sword between promoting economic development and increasing domestic terrorism in host states.

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Community-level internet connectivity and mental health: an analysis of United States counties

Journal of Mental Health

William Hatcher, Lance Hunter, Wesley Meares, Mary-Kate Lizotte, Dustin Avent-Holt


Background: Access to the Internet is often viewed as a positive feature of communities, but little research has been conducted examining the effects of internet access on mental health at the community level.

Aims: To examine the relationship between internet connectivity and mental health in United States (US) counties, an analysis that has not been conducted in the public health literature.

Methods: We analyzed predictors of mental health in US counties. Data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps were used to construct a time-series regression analysis. The data were available from 2013 to 2016.

Results: US counties that increased their internet connectivity over this period also had more citizens report suffering from mental health conditions.

Conclusions: Public health needs to focus on the county-level predictors of mental health and how internet connectivity may not always produce positive effects and may be contributing negatively to the mental health of communities.

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Social media, disinformation, and democracy: how different types of social media usage affect democracy cross-nationally

Taylor & Francis Online

Lance Y. Hunter


Much speculation exists regarding how social media impacts the health of democracies. However, minimal scholarly research empirically examines the effect social media has on democracy across multiple states and regions. Thus, this article analyses the effect social media and disinformation transmitted over social media have on democracy. The findings from a cross-national, time-series analysis of 158 states from 2000–2019 indicate that different types of social media usage have varying effects on democracy. General social media consumption, the presence of diverse political viewpoints on social media, and the use of social media in political campaigns bolster democracy. However, social media disinformation, online political polarization, and the use of social media to organize offline violence reduce overall levels of democracy. In addition, a mediation analysis is conducted to identify the precise linkages between social media disinformation and democracy and indicates that government and political party disinformation impact democracy by weakening key democratic norms.

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