Resistance in repressive contexts: A comprehensive test of psychological predictors

Arin H. Ayanian (Lead / Corresponding author), Nicole Tausch, Yasemin Gülsüm Acar, Maria Chayinska, Wing-Yee Cheung, Yulia Lukyanova

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57 Citations (Scopus)
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Empirical research on the social psychological antecedents of collective action has been conducted almost exclusively in democratic societies, where activism is relatively safe. The present research examines the psychological predictors of collective action intentions in contexts where resistance is met with significant repression by the authorities. Combining recent advancements in the collective action literature, our model examines the unique predictive roles of emotion (anger and fear), political identity consolidation and participative efficacies, politicized identification, and moral obligation, over and above past participation. It further investigates how these variables are shaped by perceptions of risks attributable to repression. Four survey studies test this model among protesters in Russia (N = 305), Ukraine (N = 136), Hong Kong (N = 115), and Turkey (N = 296). Meta-analytic integration of the findings highlights that, unlike in most current accounts of collective action, protesters in these contexts are not primarily driven by political efficacy. Rather, their involvement is contingent upon beliefs in the ability of protest to build a movement (identity consolidation and participative efficacies) and motivated by outrage at state repression, identification with the social movement, and a sense of moral obligation to act on their behalf. Results also confirm that risks attributable to state repression spur rather than quell resistance by increasing outrage, politicized identification, identity consolidation and participative efficacies, and moral obligation. The implications of these findings for models of collective action and our understanding of the motives underlying engagement in repressive contexts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)912-939
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date2 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Collective action
  • Efficacy
  • Moral obligation
  • Politicized identification
  • Risky contexts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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