LONDON — The notion that young women are traveling to Syria solely to become “jihadi brides” is simplistic and hinders efforts to prevent other girls from being radicalized, new research suggests.

Young women are joining the Islamic State group for many reasons, including anger over the perceived persecution of Muslims and the wish to belong to a sisterhood with similar beliefs, according to a report presented Thursday by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London.

Western societies must understand these varied motivations if they hope to prevent more women from joining the militants and potentially returning to their home nations to commit acts of terrorism, argue the report’s authors, Erin Saltman and Melanie Smith. Thinking of them as all being brainwashed, groomed, innocent girls hinders understanding of the threat they pose.

“They’re not being taken seriously,” Smith said. “It’s inherently dangerous to label people with the same brush.”

The report was presented Thursday at a Jihadist Insurgency Conference at King’s College. Saltman said women have always been involved in violent extremism, but that the number of women supporting Islamic State is “completely unprecedented.”

“We see a real problem,” she said, citing several factors for the increased numbers, including the direct call Islamic State is making for female volunteers, the fact that women are directly recruiting other women online, and the “very fluent, catchy, pop culture” approach the extremists use in their propaganda.

About 550 young women, some as young as 13, have already traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory, according to the report.

The researchers suggest that while the term jihadi bride may be catchy from a media point of view, the young women who are traveling to Syria see themselves as something more: pilgrims embarking on a mission to develop the region into an Islamic utopia. Many would like to fight alongside male recruits, but the group’s strict interpretation of Islam relegates them to domestic roles.

The primary responsibility for a woman in Islamic State-controlled territory may be to be a good wife and a “mother to the next generation of jihadism,” but the study concluded that women are playing a crucial propaganda role for the organization by using social media to bring in more recruits.