International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Explaining Radical Group Behaviour:  Developing Emotion and Efficacy Routes to Normative and Non-nor

Nicole Tausch, University of St Andrews; Julia Becker, University of Marburg; Russell Spears, Cardiff University; Oliver Christ, University of Marburg; Rim Saab, Cardiff

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of St Andrews
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

A recent model of collective action distinguishes two distinct pathways; an emotional pathway whereby anger in response to injustice motivates action, and an efficacy pathway where the belief that issues can be solved collectively increases the likelihood that group members take action (van Zomeren, Spears, Fischer, & Leach, 2004). Research supporting this model has, however, focused entirely on relatively normative actions such as participating in demonstrations. The authors argue that the relations between emotions, efficacy and action differ for more extreme, non-normative actions and propose (1) that non-normative actions are often driven by a sense of low efficacy and (2) that contempt, which, unlike anger, entails psychological distancing and a lack of reconciliatory intentions, predicts non-normative action. These ideas are tested in three survey studies examining student protests against tuition fees in Germany (N = 332), Indian Muslims’ action support in relation to ingroup disadvantage (N = 156), and British Muslims’ responses to British foreign policy (N = 466). Results were generally supportive of predictions and indicated that (a) anger was strongly related to normative action but overall unrelated or less strongly related to non-normative action; (b) contempt was either unrelated or negatively related to normative action but significantly positively predicted non-normative action; and (c) that efficacy was positively related to normative action and negatively to non-normative action. The implications of these findings for understanding and dealing with extreme intergroup phenomena such as terrorism are discussed.