International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Integrating emotion, identity and opinion for action towards positive social change.

Craig McGarty

Conference: ISPP 2011
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

In this paper we develop on the arguments of Thomas, McGarty and Mavor (2009 a, b) that action to produce real social change is most likely to be sustained when the action is supported by the right combination of social identity, group-based emotion and beliefs including collective efficacy beliefs. The right combination will tend to exist when emotions, beliefs and action are all aligned as norms of a group. Opinion-based groups as discussed by Bliuc, McGarty and colleagues can provide excellent vehicles for such normative alignment a point we indicate through (a) research by Thomas and colleagues that shows that commitment to action to combat global poverty can be stimulated by priming small group discussions with an injunctive norm promoting moral outrage (b) through research by Hartley, Bliuc and colleagues on reconciliation and intergroup apology in Australia and the Netherlands showing that relevant opinion-based group memberships are strongly related to both commitment to social change action and to group-based emotions such as guilt and (c) a community-partnership project in Rwanda that shows how hope for the future can be integrated with acknowledging past harm in the efforts to overcome the burden of trauma after genocide.  The full set of research points to the underexplored power and applicability to pressing social issues of contemporary social psychological theorizing.