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Collective action and protest have become a normalized political behavior that in many cases defines the political agenda. The reasons why people take to the streets constitute a central subject within the study of social psychology. In the literature, three precedents of protest that have been established as central to the study of this phenomenon are: injustice, efficacy, and identity. But political action is also deeply related to moral values. This explains why in recent years some moral constructs have also been pointed out as predictors of collective action. Moral variables have been introduced into the literature with little consideration to how they relate to each other. Thus, work in this direction is needed. The general aim of this research is to differentiate moral obligation from moral norms and moral conviction, as well as to compare their ability to predict collective action. In order to do so, the research objectives are: (a) conceptualize and operationalize moral obligation (Study 1, N = 171); (b) test its predictive power for intention to participate in protests (Study 2, N = 622); and (c) test moral obligation in a real context (Study 3, N = 407). Results are encouraging, showing not only that moral obligation is different to moral conviction and moral norm, but also that it is a more effective predictor working both for intention and real participation. This work therefore presents moral obligation as a key precedent of protest participation, prompting its future use as a variable that can enhance existing predictive models of collective action. Results regarding other variables are also discussed.
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fpsyg-09-00418 March 27, 2018 Time: 17:23 # 1
published: 27 March 2018
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00418
Edited by:
Mark Hallahan,
College of the Holy Cross,
United States
Reviewed by:
Smadar Cohen-Chen,
University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Guillermo B. Willis,
University of Granada, Spain
Marcos Dono
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Personality and Social Psychology,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Psychology
Received: 30 October 2017
Accepted: 13 March 2018
Published: 27 March 2018
Sabucedo J-M, Dono M, Alzate M
and Seoane G (2018) The
Importance of Protesters’ Morals:
Moral Obligation as a Key Variable
to Understand Collective Action.
Front. Psychol. 9:418.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00418
The Importance of Protesters’
Morals: Moral Obligation as a Key
Variable to Understand Collective
José-Manuel Sabucedo, Marcos Dono*, Mónica Alzate and Gloria Seoane
Departamento de Psicoloxía Social, Básica e Metodoloxía, Facultade de Psicoloxía, Universidade de Santiago de
Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Collective action and protest have become a normalized political behavior that in many
cases defines the political agenda. The reasons why people take to the streets constitute
a central subject within the study of social psychology. In the literature, three precedents
of protest that have been established as central to the study of this phenomenon
are: injustice, efficacy, and identity. But political action is also deeply related to moral
values. This explains why in recent years some moral constructs have also been pointed
out as predictors of collective action. Moral variables have been introduced into the
literature with little consideration to how they relate to each other. Thus, work in this
direction is needed. The general aim of this research is to differentiate moral obligation
from moral norms and moral conviction, as well as to compare their ability to predict
collective action. In order to do so, the research objectives are: (a) conceptualize and
operationalize moral obligation (Study 1, N= 171); (b) test its predictive power for
intention to participate in protests (Study 2, N= 622); and (c) test moral obligation in
a real context (Study 3, N= 407). Results are encouraging, showing not only that moral
obligation is different to moral conviction and moral norm, but also that it is a more
effective predictor working both for intention and real participation. This work therefore
presents moral obligation as a key precedent of protest participation, prompting its
future use as a variable that can enhance existing predictive models of collective action.
Results regarding other variables are also discussed.
Keywords: activism, collective action, morals, moral obligation, moral conviction, moral norm, political
participation, protest
Occupy Wall Street,Occupy London,Geraçao à Rasca, 15-M indignados... Although protest was
established long ago as one of the most prevalent forms of political participation, the number of
street demonstrations during the last decade has risen remarkably (Kriesi, 2016;Shuman et al.,
2016). The 2008 financial crisis had great impact on collective action tendencies (Likki, 2014;
Klandermans and van Stekelenburg, 2016;Kriesi, 2016;Sabucedo et al., 2017a) many of them being
rooted in anti-system claims (Hughes, 2011;Páez et al., 2013). Despite this increase in protests
numbers being closely related to anti-system and anti-austerity claims, the normalization of protest
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Sabucedo et al. Moral Obligation and Collective Action
extends to other subjects as well: the Arab Spring,
anti-xenophobia marches in South Africa in 2013, Hong Kong’s
Umbrella Revolution in 2014, or the recently held Women’s
March in Washington at the beginning of 2018.
As a central matter in the field, collective action has been
studied for a long time, which resulted in the identification and
establishment of a group of variables that proved to be useful
in the prediction of protest participation. Among the variables
that stand out as collective action predictors we find: injustice,
efficacy, and identity. These variables were first proposed by
Gamson (1992) in his work about collective action frames and
have been developed and integrated into solid predictive models
(for further information, see Sturmer and Simon, 2004;van
Zomeren et al., 2004, 2008;Tausch et al., 2011;van Stekelenburg
and Klandermans, 2013). Successive studies on collective action
frames derived into what is in all likelihood the most widely used
predictive model of collective action, the SIMCA, that efficiently
integrates the variables of identity, injustice, and efficacy (van
Zomeren et al., 2008).
However, politics is also a moral topic which means that
axiological principles could also influence collective action. This
is why in recent years, some engaging approaches that point
toward the importance of people’s morals as a motivator for
participation have been proposed. That is the case of moral
conviction (van Zomeren et al., 2012;Skitka et al., 2015) and
moral obligation (Vilas and Sabucedo, 2012;Vilas et al., 2016).
Also, besides this linkage with politics, morals had already
proven to motivate a diverse range of human behavior. The most
prominent case is that of moral norm that appears associated
to the prediction of a wide range of behavior (Conner et al.,
2003;McMillan and Conner, 2003;Moan and Rise, 2006). In
this sense, and taking into account the importance that morals
acquired in the field of politics, it seems adequate to wonder if
a concept as widely used in the psychological literature as moral
norm is also useful to understand collective action, or at least, to
explore what relationship it has with the aforementioned moral
The existence of all these concepts that are – moral obligation
(Vilas and Sabucedo, 2012) and moral conviction (van Zomeren
et al., 2012;Skitka et al., 2015) – or may be – moral norm
(Schwartz, 1973) – related to collective action compels us to
explain this relationship further. Therefore, since these three
concepts seem to overlap, differentiating them will clarify how
relevant they are as predictors of collective action. To do so, we
will first define each of the three concepts.
Considering that the literature on moral conviction (Skitka
et al., 2015) points toward a certain similarity with the concept
of moral norm and that both these constructs have received
more attention in the literature, they will be discussed jointly and
briefly. On the other hand, since moral obligation has a shorter
trajectory in the field and constitutes the central proposal of this
work, we will devote more attention to it. Finally, once the three
concepts are defined, we will discuss their conceptual differences.
Moral Norm and Moral Conviction
The origins of moral norm can be tracked to the work of
Schwartz (1973), where he proposed the concept of personal
norm (from now on referred to as moral norm, for the sake
of better comprehension). The conceptualization of Schwartz’s
moral norm draws from Fishbein’s (1967) work on attitude
and the prediction of behavior, specifically from the personal
normative belief concept, defined as “a belief of whether the
particular act should or should not be performed” (Fishbein,
1967, p. 489). Moral norm was later introduced in the theory
of planned behavior as an individual’s perception of a specific
behavior as morally correct or incorrect (Ajzen, 1991).
In what refers to moral conviction, it is a term originally
proposed by Skitka et al. (2005). It is defined as a “meta-cognitive
belief that people may have about a given attitude, that is,
that the attitude is grounded in core beliefs about right and
wrong” (Skitka et al., 2015, p. 41). Despite the similarity with the
definition of moral norm, the fact that moral convictions stand
in a core position among personal beliefs makes for a qualitative
difference between them and that may be enough to differentiate
the two.
Additionally, as already noted, moral conviction does appear
as a useful predictive variable in the literature of collective action
(Skitka and Wisneski, 2011;van Zomeren et al., 2012).
Moral Obligation
Previously, Vilas and Sabucedo (2012) referred to moral
obligation as “a personal decision to participate in a specific
collective action based on the belief that this is what should be
done” (Vilas and Sabucedo, 2012, p. 371). Revisiting the concept,
it seems more adequate to define it as a motivational force toward
a certain action that later could end in a decision to execute a
The theoretical basis of moral obligation came from Kant’s
work on the categorical imperative, an objective principle that
must always be followed no matter the consequences (Johnson
and Cureton, 2017). In the same vein, Bandura (1986) mentions
that on occasion, people behave based on their moral despite the
elevated costs that these actions could involve. Therefore, a sense
of obligation is one of the aspects to be considered when we refer
to moral obligation.
Another characteristic of moral obligation is that it constitutes
a strictly personal motivation, as it is linked to personal codes of
conduct. In other words, the need to comply is toward oneself and
no other normative sources like the reference group. In this sense,
moral obligation is endowed with a sense of autonomy. From
the moment people execute these actions freely, and not forced
by contextual demands, their self-concept (Higgins, 1989), well-
being (Diener and Diener, 1995), and pride (Tracy and Robins,
2004) are boosted. In other words, their personal satisfaction
Along with these three dimensions – sense of obligation,
autonomy, and personal satisfaction – previously posited in the
work by Vilas and Sabucedo (2012), there are two additional
aspects that are relevant to characterize moral obligation. One
of them refers to the cost of not behaving according to one’s
beliefs. The theory of self-discrepancy (Higgins, 1987) posits,
following the classical concept of cognitive dissonance (Festinger,
1957) that discrepancy between beliefs and actions produces
psychological distress. More specifically, Higgins (1987) proposes
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that discrepancies between one’s actual and ought self produced
The other dimension that should be added to the
conceptualization of moral obligation is that of sacrifice.
This is to say, people who act guided by moral obligation may
deal with personal sacrifice, one aspect that was already present
in Kant’s work (Johnson and Cureton, 2017). Writing about
heroism, Zimbardo (2007) states that duty, a concept similar to
that of the moral obligation, takes priority over high personal
costs. Costs depend on the socio-political context, but whatever
they are always implies a barrier to participate in political action.
Hence, our conceptualization of moral obligation comprehends
these five aspects: sense of obligation, autonomy, personal
satisfaction, discomfort, and sacrifice.
Accordingly, and following the arguments previously exposed,
moral obligation can be understood as a personal motivation to
behave according to a series of moral self-expectations of one’s
conduct, which at the same time are developed over a set of
personal values and ideas.
Conceptual Differences Between Moral
Norm, Moral Conviction, and Moral
The definitions of moral obligation, moral conviction, and
moral norm have been discussed, and it can be observed
that they share some characteristics, as, for instance, personal
commitment, whether related to beliefs (moral norm and moral
conviction) or to actions (moral obligation). However, differences
between them also exist, and this is of capital importance
since it is what gives sense to discussing their relation and
their potentially different roles in the explanation of collective
Regarding the differences between moral norm and moral
obligation, the definition of norm and obligation by The Oxford
Dictionary of Philosophy may be a convenient starting point to
this discussion. Norm is described as: “a rule for behavior, or
a definite pattern of behavior, departure from which renders a
person liable to some kind of censure [. . .]”; while obligation is
defined as: “an action that is required of one” (Blackburn, 2008,
p. 267).
Taking the above mentioned into account, it could be
concluded that: (a) moral norm is what defines which behavior
is right and which is wrong and (b) moral obligation is the
motivation felt to comply with that moral norm. In other
words, and using self-discrepancy theory (Higgins, 1987) as a
framework, the moral norms will be the individual’s self-guides
while moral obligation will be the motivation felt to behave
Concerning the relationship of moral norm and moral
conviction, the main difference between these two constructs lies
in the centrality of the attitude in question. Moral conviction
is generally regarded as a particularly strong attitude based on
moral content, which is perceived as nuclear to one’s beliefs
(Skitka and Morgan, 2014). According to this, a moral conviction
can be understood as an especially strong and important moral
Regarding the difference between moral conviction and moral
obligation, it is important to keep in mind that moral conviction
is a special case of moral norm. Therefore, moral convictions
allude to an individual’s self-guides – in the same way as moral
norms do, and moral obligation is the motivation to act according
to them. In this case, given that moral conviction is more
central than moral norm, moral obligation must be greater when
associated to the former.
The arguments expressed above point toward these three
concepts clearly constituting different realities. Nevertheless, this
argument must be supported by empirical data.
General Aims and Hypotheses
The objectives of the present work are as follows: (1) to define
and operationalize the concept of moral obligation, and to
empirically test the proposed theoretical differences between
moral obligation, moral conviction, and moral norm, as well as to
analyze the relationship between those moral variables and their
value as predictive variables of political participation intention
(Study 1); (2) to test the role of moral obligation as a predictor
of intention to participate in collective action along with the
most used predictive variables in the literature, those of the
SIMCA (van Zomeren et al., 2008; Study 2); and (3) to test moral
obligation’s predictive power in the context of real participation
in a demonstration.
The initial hypotheses are as follows: (a) moral obligation,
moral norm, and moral conviction are three different realities;
(b) the potential predictive impact of moral norm and moral
conviction over the intention to participate in collective action
will be mediated by moral obligation; (c) moral obligation
constitutes the most effective predictor of collective action
participation of the three; and (d) the predictive role of moral
obligation will remain to be key even with the presence of
variables that have already proven to be efficient predictors of
collective action.
The validation of a new measure of collective action following the
conceptual changes suggested is the first objective of the present
research. This measure will then be compared to others of moral
conviction and moral norm to test if they are different constructs.
Finally, the three of them will be used to predict intention to
participate in collective action in order to test which one is the
best predictive variable.
Participants and Procedure
One hundred and seventy-one (171) Spanish participants
(150 women; mean age = 20.55) voluntarily completed a
questionnaire where they were asked about their political opinion
on the basis of a hypothetical raise in tuition fees by the
Spanish government. This procedure was adapted from van
Zomeren et al. (2012). The context was given by a report
elaborated for the study, which stated that a raise in tuition
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fees was being considered by the government. This bogus news
item was included at the beginning of the questionnaire. After
the participants had completed the questionnaire, they were
debriefed and told the news had been fabricated for the study.
Moral norm
A moral norm scale was elaborated based on measures that
assessed the moral norm through the evaluation of participant’s
perception of the rightness or wrongness of behavior (Conner
et al., 2003;McMillan and Conner, 2003;Moan and Rise, 2006).
Respondents indicated on a seven-point scale (totally disagree
to totally agree) their level of agreement regarding the rightness
of acting against the portrayed measures. The final measure
contained three items (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.73; see Appendix I
for items).
Moral conviction
Moral conviction was measured with a scale from van Zomeren
et al. (2012). The scale was composed of four (Cronbach’s
alpha = 0.83) items and the scoring logic was the same as for the
moral norm scale (see Appendix I).
Intention to participate
A seven-item scale was developed based on the work of (J. M.
Sabucedo and Arce, 1991; Cronbach’s alpha = 0.80). Participants
were asked on their intention to participate through different
courses of action. Four of the items tapped conventional
participation (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.71), while the other three
tapped unconventional participation (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.80).
Again, the score system was a seven-point Likert scale (1 “totally
disagree” to 7 “totally agree”).
Developing the Moral Obligation Scale
Based on the recommendations of the European Federation
of Psychologists’ Associations on test quality indicators (Evers
et al., 2012), the scale construction process began by defining its
dimensions from a theoretical approach, where it was intended
to get a more exhaustive moral obligation measure than previous
This process was done using the Moral Obligation Scale by
Vilas and Sabucedo (2012) as the main reference. Based on this
work, the dimensions of sense of obligation, autonomy, and
personal satisfaction are included. As previously mentioned, two
more dimensions were added to these three. The discomfort
caused by not acting in accordance with one’s own moral (Stets
and Carter, 2012), and sacrifice (Johnson and Cureton, 2017) are
the dimensions that complete the conceptualization of the Moral
Obligation Scale.
A group of three experts was gathered and each of them
was asked to independently develop a total of five items per
dimension. The resulting items were evaluated and selected upon
agreement among the same experts. This resulted in a total of 16
items (M= 4.47; SD = 1.03; Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92) that were
later submitted to statistical filtering.
Reducing the Moral Obligation Scale
An important concern regarding the elaboration of the Moral
Obligation Scale was its fit to be used in the context of a
real demonstration. This circumstance requires brief measure
instruments; therefore, obtaining a short scale was a capital goal
of this study.
An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with varimax rotation
was performed on the original 16-item scale. Results of this
analysis showed four factors, close to the original concept that
proposed five dimensions of moral obligation. Two items were
selected from the first factor, which grouped two of the original
dimensions – sense of obligation and autonomy – and one item
was selected from each of the other three factors. This selection
was done based on the theoretical adequacy of the items and
their statistical significance, while also trying to preserve each
of the five theoretically proposed dimensions. Item 1 of the
final scale was selected for the dimension of sense of obligation,
item 2 represented personal satisfaction and item 3 accounted
for discomfort, item 4 was selected to feature in the sacrifice
dimension, and finally item 5 taps for autonomy. An additional
EFA on this scale showed only one factor, which supports the idea
that the items account for the same concept of moral obligation.
Additionally, a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) performed
with the SPSS AMOS tool was applied on the resulting scale.
Results showed a good fit of the model, beginning with a
non-significant Chi-square statistic [χ2(5) = 4.21, p= 0.519].
Other indicators also accounted for a very good fit of the data:
GFI = 0.99, CFI = 1.00, RMSEA = 0.00, and SRMR = 0.02. Finally,
the reliability of this Moral Obligation Scale was tested, obtaining
a good indicator (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.80; see the final version of
the scale on Appendix I) (see Supplementary Data Sheet S1 for
the original data matrix).
Empirical Differences Between: Moral Norm, Moral
Conviction, and Moral Obligation
As previously stated, the concepts of moral obligation, moral
norm, and moral conviction were supposed to be three different
realities. However, it was also theorized that they were also closely
related. This relationship is to be expected due to the nature of the
constructs and does not contradict the fact that the three of them
could be different constructs. The data showed such closeness,
correlation of moral obligation and moral conviction was fairly
high (r= 0.627, p<0.001), while the correlation between moral
obligation and moral norm was lower, though also significant
(r= 0.414, p<0.001).
Despite this, theoretical differences were proposed that were
ought to be empirically tested. To do so, an EFA was performed
over the items of the three constructs. The results of this analysis
showed three clearly different factors, which comprised each of
the items of the original scales (see Table 1).
A CFA was also executed to test the hypothesized model
formed by the three differentiated constructs of moral obligation,
moral conviction, and moral norm (see Figure 1). Results of the
analysis showed a good fit although the Chi-squared test was
statistically significant [χ2(51) = 80.70, p= 0.005]. The fact that
Chi-square was significant requires the use of other indicators
to assess the fit of the model; those indicators showed a good
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TABLE 1 | Factor loadings for the moral scale items.
1 2 3
Moral Obligation_1 0.752 0.215 0.194
Moral Obligation_5 0.729 0.374 0.216
Moral Obligation_3 0.682 0.272 0.180
Moral Obligation_2 0.669 0.162
Moral Obligation_4 0.608 0.363
Moral Conviction_2 0.246 0.871
Moral Conviction_1 0.121 0.867 0.150
Moral Conviction_3 0.281 0.702 0.188
Moral Conviction_4 0.427 0.625
Moral Norm_2 0.109 0.908
Moral Norm_1 0.255 0.860
Moral Norm_3 0.141 0.640
Factor loadings under 0.10 are not displayed.
fit of the model: GFI = 0.92, CFI = 0.96, RMSEA = 0.059,
and SRMR = 0.05. These data indicate that moral obligation,
moral norm, and moral conviction are indeed distinct. An
alternative model was tested, where all the variables from the
three constructs loaded into a single construct. This was done as
it was understood to be the converse scenario to the one formerly
tested. The fit of that model was poor, suggesting that all the
items did not form a single construct: GFI = 0.74; CFI = 0.67;
RMSEA = 0.17; and SRMR = 0.11.
FIGURE 1 | Confirmatory factor analysis results for Study 1.
Predicting Intention to Participate Through Moral
To test the predictive power of the Moral Obligation Scale on
collective action tendencies, a step-wise linear regression analysis
was conducted on the intention to participate using moral
obligation, moral conviction, and moral norm as independent
Results showed a first significant model where moral
obligation was the only predictor of intention to participate
[F(1,169) = 89.52, p<0.001] where R2was 0.34. The next step
included moral conviction [F(2,168) = 48.08, p<0.001] where
R2was equal to 0.35. In the case of moral norm, this variable did
not enter the step-wise analysis (see Table 2).
Two additional analyses were performed, with conventional
and non-conventional participation as the dependent
variables. When the dependent variable was changed to
conventional participation intention, the step-wise regression
resulted in a final three variable model [F(3,167) = 51.69,
p<0.001] comprising moral obligation, moral conviction,
and moral norm (from higher to lower β), while R2was 0.47
Meanwhile, when the dependent variable was non-conventional
participation intention, only moral obligation accounted for it
[F(1,169) = 36.39, p<0.001], with the rest of dependent variables
left out of the analysis; here, R2was 0.17.
Aside from the previous data, it is interesting to analyze
the relationship between moral norm, moral conviction, moral
obligation, and collective action intention. Thus, a mediation
analysis was performed in order to explore if moral norm and
moral conviction precede of moral obligation. This analysis
was carried out with the SPSS PROCESS macro [version
3.0; for additional information on the software, see (Hayes
and Preacher, 2014)]. A first model was performed to test
if moral obligation mediated the effect of moral norm on
intention to participate. The indirect effect was tested through
bootstrap estimation (1000 samples, 95% level of confidence).
The effect of the mediation of moral obligation was significant,
as 65% of the effect moral norm had on intention to
participate was due to the mediational route of moral obligation
(PM= 0.65, SE = 0.19, 95% CI = 0.38, 1.10), whereas
the inverse model of moral norm mediating the effect of
moral obligation produced a non-significant indirect effect; in
other words, the mediation of moral norm had no impact
in how moral obligation explained intention to participate
(95% CI = 0.00, 0.22).
Another mediation tested the effects of moral obligation
as a mediator in the relationship between moral conviction
and intention to participate. The percentage explained by the
TABLE 2 | Linear regression analysis results (Study 1).
Model BStd. error βtSig.
1 Moral obligation 0.498 0.053 0.588 9.46 <0.001
2 Moral obligation 0.407 0.067 0.481 6.09 <0.001
Moral conviction 0.148 0.067 0.171 2.16 0.032
Dependent Variable: Iintention to participate. Moral norm did not enter in the step-
wise linear regression analysis.
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mediational path over the total effect was, in this case, a 63%
(PM= 0.63, SE = 0.14, 95% CI = 0.39, 0.98). An alternative
model was performed where moral conviction mediated the
effect of moral obligation on intention to participate. Here the
mediation of moral conviction was responsible for 18% of the
total effect explained in the model (PM= 0.18, SE = 0.10, 95%
CI = >0.00, 0.42). This indicates that the role as a mediator of
moral obligation on moral conviction is greater than that of moral
conviction on moral obligation.
Finally, the same procedure was applied to the relation
between moral norm and moral conviction. When moral
conviction mediated the effect of moral norm, the mediational
route accounted for 30% of the total effect (PM= 0.30, SE = 0.12,
95% CI = 0.12, 0.63) while when moral norm mediated moral
conviction that percentage was down to 12% (PM= 0.12,
SE = 0.05, 95% CI = 0.04, 0.40).
Results of Study 1 support the initial hypothesis that presented
moral obligation, moral conviction, and moral norm as
differentiated constructs. This could mean a great deal, not only
in the field of collective action but also in other areas of study
within the body of social psychology. The theory of planned
behavior (Ajzen, 1991) is a good example; here moral norm is
usually operationalized as perceived moral obligation, while our
results point toward the idea that these two concepts are different
even though closely related, which may require reconsidering
the adequacy of measuring moral norm with items of moral
Also, a reliable, short scale to measure moral obligation was
obtained. This scale could easily be used in field studies of real
demonstrations, where briefness of measurement instruments is
The data of Study 1 also support the idea that among the
three different concepts that account for moral values, moral
obligation is the one that works as the best predictor. This might
be because it is conceptually closer to the actual manifestation of
behavior than the other two. While the moral norm is conceived
as the conception of a determined behavior as morally right
or wrong, and moral conviction represents what could be a
particularly central moral norm among the person’s belief system,
the concept of moral obligation accounts for the motivation
felt by the individual to behave accordingly to those moral
The theoretical argument of moral norm and moral conviction
being precedents of moral obligation seems to be supported by
the evidence of the mediational analyses. The fact that moral
obligation plays a bigger role as a mediator of moral conviction
and moral norm than vice versa is what gives support to this
argument. Also, moral conviction being a better mediator of
moral norm than moral norm is of moral conviction also gives
some support to the idea of moral conviction being a special
kind of moral norm. Despite this, it has to be noted that
causal assumptions derived from mediational analysis should be
addressed with caution (Spencer et al., 2005).
The fact that the sample should be more heterogeneous in
terms of age, as well as more balanced in terms of sex constitutes
a limitation of the present study, but nonetheless, it is considered
as adequate considering the objectives set in its inception.
These results also encourage the use of the Moral Obligation
Scale along with other predictors of collective action, to see how it
fares when integrated among other, non-moral nature predictive
variables of collective action.
Following the discussion of Study 1, the main objective of
Study 2 is to test how the moral obligation variable fares when
predicting participation intention while acting together with
other predictive variables. The intention was also to perform this
analysis with an ampler and more heterogeneous sample, to cover
for the limitations of the previous study.
The variables that will feature in Study 2 are those derived
from the SIMCA: injustice, efficacy, and identity. All of them
should have a predictive impact on the intention to participate,
following the findings of van Zomeren et al. (2008). Additionally,
moral conviction will also feature in this study, but not moral
norm. The reason for this is that in Study 1 moral norm
did not predict neither general intention to participate nor
non-conventional intention to participate – it is only very
marginally predicted conventional intention to participate –
when introduced along moral conviction and moral obligation
in the regression analyses. Thus, moral conviction is considered
the only variable of the two that could possibly work better than
moral obligation as a predictor of intention to participate in
collective action.
Participants and Procedure
A professional, specialized company was contacted to carry out
the sampling for this study through an online survey directed to
the Spanish general population. A sample of 625 participants was
determined. That number was fixed for an infinite population,
with a confidence coefficient of 95% and a sampling error of
4%. The final sample, after controlling and filtering for missing
values, was of six hundred and twenty-two (622) participants
from Spain’s general population, of whom 396 were women
(accounting for 63.7% of the sample). Age of the participants
ranged from 19 to 75, with a mean value of 43.79, which is
extremely close to Spain’s actual mean age of 43.69 (Instituto
Nacional de Estadística, 2017). Participants responded to an
online questionnaire developed in Qualtrics software.
To frame the hypothetical protest, a text about the situation of
Spain’s public health system appeared before the questionnaire.
It was a small compendium of some of the cuts made by the
government over recent years.
Moral obligation
Moral obligation was measured using the previously validated
scale in Study 1. This five-item Likert scale (ranging from 1 totally
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disagree to 5 totally agree) showed higher levels of reliability than
in the previous study (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92).
Social identity was measured by tapping in the dimensions of
cognitive centrality and affective relationship with the reference
group (van Zomeren et al., 2008). Being a group identification
measure, a reference group is needed; in this case, the white tide
was the reference group. White tide is a group of organizations
that defend public health and denounce cuts in Spain.
The measure comprised five Likert scaled items (Cronbach’s
alpha = 0.89) that measured feelings of sympathy, identification,
connection, and agreement toward the white tide (e.g., “I share
values and beliefs with the white tide movement”).
Feelings of injustice were measured by asking participants to
evaluate the austerity politics performed in the context of public
health on three dichotomous scales: unjust–just, bad–good, and
negative–positive (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.97). All three scales
ranged from 1 to 10.
Four items adapted from Hornsey et al. (2006) were used
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.79). Participants were asked to determine
the level of efficacy they perceived about protesting in defense of
public health in a scale that ranged from very little effective to
very effective (e.g., how effective a protest will be in “influencing
Parliament politicians”).
Affective injustice
Affective injustice was measured by asking people how they
felt about the management of the public health system by the
government during the crisis [e.g., angry, annoyed, and satisfied
(reverse-scored); Cronbach’s alpha = 0.75].
Moral conviction
The moral conviction measure for this study was taken from
Skitka et al. (2009) and it comprised two items evaluating how
nuclear the public health subject was within participant’s moral
system (Skitka and Morgan, 2014; e.g., how much are your
feelings about this issue connected to your core moral beliefs and
convictions?) (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.82).
Intention to participate
To measure intention to participate, a shorter version of the
instrument used in Study 1 was selected. This time, participants
showed their agreement or disagreement on performing five
different protest acts (three of them conventional and two
unconventional). The scale once again was shown to be reliable
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.84).
First and foremost, a new CFA of the Moral Obligation Scale was
performed; this was done in order to replicate the analysis of the
Moral Obligation Scale in Study 1, as a good result will support
the robustness of the scale. The model fit for the Moral Obligation
Scale was again good: GFI = 0.98; CFI = 0.99; RMSEA = 0.08; and
SRMR = 0.01 (see Supplementary Data Sheet S2 for the original
data matrix).
A step-wise linear regression analysis was considered to
be the best technique to analyze the data. All variables were
introduced in the analysis, along with sex and age, in order to
control for its influence. The final model [F(6,615) = 153.27,
p<0.001] showed an R2value of 0.59, and resulted in six steps,
the variables that significantly predicted intention to participate
being (in order from higher to lower βvalues, criteria that
will hold for the rest of the present work): identity, moral
obligation, affective injustice, injustice, efficacy, and age (see
Table 3). Moral conviction was the only variable excluded in the
Additionally, as the intention to participate measure
comprised both conventional and non-conventional forms
of collective action, a step-wise linear regression analysis was
performed for both types of participation using the same
independent variables.
For conventional participation, the model resulted in five
steps [F(5,616) = 234.35, p<0.001] with an associated R2equal
to 0.65. The variables that explained intention in conventional
participation were: identity, moral obligation, affective injustice,
injustice, and age (see Table 4).
Finally, when non-conventional protest was the dependent
variable, the resulting model was configured by four steps
TABLE 3 | Coefficients of the set of variables used in Study 2 in the prediction of
general intention to participate (step-wise linear regression).
BStd. error βt p
Identity 0.349 0.040 0.342 8.65 <0.001
Moral obligation 0.273 0.033 0.312 8.23 <0.001
Affective injustice 0.148 0.034 0.134 4.31 <0.001
Injustice 0.083 0.024 0.102 3.48 0.001
Efficacy 0.122 0.047 0.080 2.59 0.010
Age 0.008 0.003 0.074 2.80 0.005
F153.27∗∗ ∗
Dependent variable: intention to participate (general). This table represents the
coefficients of the last step of the analysis. ∗∗ ∗ p<0.001.
TABLE 4 | Coefficients of the variables that entered the step-wise analysis
predicting for conventional intention to participate.
BStd. error βt p
Identity 0.361 0.034 0.377 10.65 <0.001
Moral obligation 0.257 0.028 0.313 9.08 <0.001
Injustice 0.107 0.021 0.140 5.15 <0.001
Affective injustice 0.175 0.030 0.169 5.90 <0.001
Age 0.006 0.002 0.060 2.47 0.014
F234.35∗∗ ∗
Dependent variable: intention to participate (conventional). This table represents
the coefficients of the last step of the analysis. ∗∗ ∗ p<0.001.
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TABLE 5 | Coefficients of the variables that entered the step-wise analysis
predicting for non-conventional intention to participate.
BStd. error βt p
Identity 0.370 0.070 0.262 5.29 <0.001
Affective injustice 0.127 0.060 0.083 2.13 0.034
Moral obligation 0.316 0.059 0.261 5.37 <0.001
Efficacy 0.200 0.084 0.095 2.38 0.017
Age 0.010 0.005 0.069 2.05 0.40
F62.19∗∗ ∗
Dependent variable: intention to participate (non-conventional). ∗∗ ∗ p<0.001.
[F(5,616) = 62.19, p<0.001] that generated an R2of 0.33. The
independent variables that resulted significantly predictive were
as follows: identity, moral obligation, efficacy, affective injustice,
and age (see Table 5).
A replication of the mediational analysis of Study 1 was
performed in order to test if the results held while using a more
representative sample. In the case of moral conviction mediated
by moral obligation, the ratio of the indirect to total effect was
60% (PM= 0.60, SE = 0.07, 95% CI = 0.46, 0.75).
Alternatively, when moral conviction mediated the effect of
moral obligation on intention to participate, the effect of the
mediation route explained only 10% of the total effect (PM= 0.10,
SE = 0.02, 95% CI = 0.06, 0.16). As can be observed, results
replicated those of Study 1.
The primary aim of this study was to test the performance
of the moral obligation variable as a predictor of intention to
participate when it was used among other traditional predictive
variables of collective action. First, it must be noted that the
measure developed in Study 1 for moral obligation proves to be
highly reliable again, this time with a more general sample, with
Cronbach’s alpha coefficient notably increasing in this second
study as well as the CFA indices once more showing a good fit.
The results also support the idea of moral obligation being
a robust predictor of the intention to participate in collective
action (both conventional and non-conventional), as it showed
the second greatest size effect in the first two analyses, topped
only by the identity variable and the greatest effect size for
non-conventional participation.
Conversely, moral conviction did not feature in any of the
three models as a significant predictor of intention to participate
in collective action of any kind. This shows the superiority
of moral obligation over moral conviction as a predictor of
collective action.
Although the principal aim of the current study was not to
generate a model for intention of participation, the model that
resulted from the analysis came as a remarkably strong one. It
accounted for 59% of the variance of the general intention to
participate and for 64% of the variance of intention to participate
in conventional protest.
As for the rest of variables, in general terms, the present
data support previous findings. This can be observed in that
all variables related with SIMCA had predictive influence
in the general intention to participate. However, efficacy
did not significantly predict intention to participate in
conventional collective action but did predict intention of
non-conventional participation. The reason for this result could
be that conventional participation implies fewer potential costs,
and thus the perception of efficacy is not so important. On
the other hand, non-conventional participation implies greater
potential costs, and thus participants will elaborate more in
a costs–benefits logic, which will increase the importance of
perceived efficacy.
Also, only affective injustice but not the cognitive component
of injustice appeared as a predictor of non-conventional intention
to participate. This is an unsurprising result as van Zomeren
et al. (2008) already showed that affective injustice was a
better predictor than cognitive injustice. Additionally, a recent
study in collective action in high risk contexts showed that
risk perception predicts anger (Ayanian and Tausch, 2016).
Although non-conventional actions are not necessarily risky in
Western democracies, risk perceptions may be increased, making
anger more salient, which could explain that affective injustice
overshadows its cognitive component in the prediction of non-
conventional collective action intention. Finally, age also had
a predictive impact, though it showed the lowest associated
effect size of all variables, this effect was also negative, which is
congruent with previous findings in the literature (Gallego, 2007).
The present sample has good size and age representation, but
it is important to point out that it is overrepresented in terms of
women over men, and this constitutes a slight limitation. Another
limitation is the use of intention as the dependent variable. There
is a well-documented intention–behavior gap, as intentions do
not always automatically result in effective behavior (Ajzen et al.,
2009). This constitutes another and more important limitation to
the present study, making it necessary to test the performance
of moral obligation as a predictor variable of real collective
action participation, in order to clearly establish its potential
explanatory power.
The main goal of the third and last study is to test the predictive
power of moral obligation among other variables in the context
of a demonstration, comparing people in and outside the protest
as well as addressing the limitations of the previous study.
Participants and Procedure
For this study, data were collected in situ during the 2017
May Day demonstrations. Thirty-two (32) enquirers worked in
the data compilation process. Divided into eight teams of four
directed by a pointer. Sampling was carried out following the
instructions by Van Aelst and Walgrave (2001) for the gathering
of data in a demonstration context. The aim of this procedure
is to guarantee that everyone in the demonstration has an equal
opportunity to be selected as a participant, eliminating the
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possible bias of enquirers approaching people that may seem
more receptive to them. The procedure consists in forming
teams of interviewers, directed by a pointer. Four teams covered
the demonstration, starting simultaneously at the top and the
back of the demonstration, and worked their way toward the
middle, skipping a previously fixed number of rows as they
progressed in their respective directions. The pointer decided
at all times which demonstrator was to be approached, making
the process fully random for the interviewer and allowing for
quota control. At the same time, another four teams covered the
vicinity of the demonstration in order to get responses of non-
demonstrators. This way, the procedure allows to select people
that have the possibility to demonstrate but chose to not do
it, guaranteeing that they are willingly not demonstrating. Also,
the procedure allows for control of certain quotas to increase
the chances of getting a highly representative sample. The aim
for the sampling process with an expected participation of 9
demonstrators was to obtain a sample of 200 demonstrators,
which will be representative for a confidence coefficient of 95%
and a sampling error of 7%.
Data were collected using “droidSURVEY” software, as
enquirers completed the questionnaire on smartphones,
following the commands of participants.
A sample of four hundred and seven (407) participants
was gathered, two hundred and sixteen (216) were non-
demonstrators, and one hundred and ninety-one (191) were
demonstrators. Of the whole sample, two hundred and two
participants (202) were women (49.6%). Mean age of the sample
was 42.94.
Most variables in Study 3 were the same as in Study 2, and
the instruments used to measure them were very similar to
those of the previous study. Moral obligation was measured
using the same scale developed in study 1 and used in study 2.
Reliability remained strong (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.84). Identity
was measured with the same scale as in Study 2, only this time
the measure referred to the organizers of the demonstrations
instead of referring to the white tide as the reference group.
Also, it had four items instead of five (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92).
The injustice measure was the same as in Study 2, but in
this study, all three scales ranged from 0 to 10 (Cronbach’s
alpha = 0.91). The measure for efficacy for this study was identical
to that of Study 2, where the only difference was an extra item
tapping immediate instrumental efficacy of the demonstration
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.83). The affective injustice measure used the
same three items as in Study 2: anger, annoyance, and satisfaction
(reversed; Cronbach’s alpha = 0.77).
As there were some missing values, a multiple imputation
was applied to the data to maintain the original sample size.
This method was carried out following the recommendations
of (Bodner, 2008) (see Supplementary Data Sheet S3 for the
original data matrix). A binary logistic regression was conducted
with the categorical variable of participant/non-participant in the
demonstration as the dependent variable, the rest of measured
variables were introduced as independent variables, and age and
sex were also introduced as covariables to control its influence.
The method chosen for this analysis was the forward Wald
Results of the logistic regression were good in terms of
significance of the model [χ2(5) = 194.05, p<0.001), explained
variance (Nagelkerke’s R2= 0.50) and classification rate (78.9%
of overall correct classification, 77.8% for non-participants, and
80.1% for participants).
The variables that significantly predicted whether people were
participants or not participants were as follows: moral obligation,
identity, injustice, efficacy, and age. Regarding moral obligation,
this value was not only the variable with the highest odds ratio
[Exp(B) = 2.538], but also almost double the next higher odds
ratio, which was that of identity [Exp(B) = 1.430; see Table 6].
This time, factual participation was measured along a properly
comparable group of participants and non-participants in a
public demonstration, in an effort to tackle the limitations of
Study 2, testing moral obligation in a real environment. The first
conclusion we can draw from Study 3 is that moral obligation
seems to be a key predictor of participation in demonstrations, as
it appears as the predictive variable with the greatest effect size.
This leads us to consider why identity was the most powerful
predictor on intention to participate (Study 2) and why moral
obligation becomes the most predictive independent variable in
the model when factual participation is the dependent variable
(Study 3). A possible explanation for this phenomenon could be
that moral obligation is more intense when immediate behavior
is measured, rather than when the assessment is performed
using intention. According to our definition, moral obligation
constitutes a motivation to behave according to one’s moral values
in order to maintain a positive self-concept. Thus, the more
concrete the opportunity to participate becomes, the more the
moral obligation will be activated.
As for the SIMCA variables, the only one that did not
yield significant impact with participation behavior was affective
injustice. Despite affective injustice playing a very central role in
mobilizing people (van Zomeren et al., 2008), this may depend
TABLE 6 | Variables in the final model of forward Wald binary logistic regression
predicting participation vs. non-participation in the May Day demonstration held in
Madrid, 2017.
Variable BStd. error Exp(B)p
Moral obligation 0.931 0.151 2.538 <0.001
Identity 0.358 0.095 1.430 <0.001
Injustice 0.268 0.076 1.308 <0.001
Efficacy 0.342 0.146 1.408 0.019
Age 0.017 0.008 0.983 0.039
χ2194.05∗∗ ∗
The table represents the pooled data from the multiple imputation performed to
treat missing data. Exp(B): odds ratio; ∗∗ ∗ p<0.001.
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on the nature of the demonstration itself. The fact that they
are not predictive in this particular case may be because May
Day demonstrations have a deep ritual character (Peterson et al.,
2012). Ritual actions do not produce that “fire in the belly and
iron in the soul” that Gamson (1992, p.32) describes when he
refers to anger. As for sociodemographic variables, age again was
a significant predictor with a negative relation on participation.
Nevertheless, its influence is negligible compared to the rest of
the variables used in the analysis.
The main goal of this paper was to conceptualize and test the
predictive power of moral obligation in the context of collective
action participation. In order to do this, a scale for the measure of
moral obligation was developed, which is believed to represent a
better balance between length and exhaustiveness than previous
ones. Another objective was to check if moral obligation is
any different to other concepts such as moral norm and moral
conviction, which have a strong presence in the literature.
Our results confirm that they are three independent concepts.
Nevertheless, it is more important to stress the fact that moral
norm and moral conviction play their part as antecedents of
moral obligation. This disentangles the conceptual disarray which
ensues when discussing these three moral concepts. The data
presented here not only discourage us from treating them as
synonyms, but also seem to indicate that in the attitude–behavior
continuum; the moral scheme is as follows: norm–conviction–
However, without a doubt, the central topic of the present
research was to test the predictive capacity of moral obligation
over collective action participation. In order to do so, this variable
underwent a double “benchmarking process.” First, its effects on
collective action participation were measured along with another
moral variable already proven to be efficient in the prediction
of this behavior, moral conviction (van Zomeren et al., 2012).
Results clearly point toward moral obligation as having greater
predictive capacity on collective action participation. Equally
relevant is the fact of having shown – without forgetting to
exercise caution, as is customary in correlational studies – that
moral conviction precedes moral obligation.
The second benchmark that moral obligation was put through
was the testing of its predictive effects when featuring along
with the SIMCA (identity, injustice, and efficacy) variables in
the statistical analyses. Results were again encouraging for moral
obligation. In Study 2, where the intention to participate was
analyzed, it played a key role, almost to the level of identity. In
Study 3, where a real demonstration was the object of study, it
was the variable that produced the greater effect size, followed
distantly by identity. It is important to note that identity is, in all
likelihood, the most relevant variable in collective action studies.
The role that is assigned to it in the SIMCA model is a good
testament to that (van Zomeren et al., 2008). The fact that moral
obligation showed a very similar predictive capacity – or even
sometimes greater – prompts us to consider introducing moral
along with the classical paths of identity, injustice, and efficacy as
the main motives for collective action participation. This means
bringing the moral dimension of human behavior back to the
spotlight, which for some time was relegated to a minor role due
to the primacy of consequentialist approaches.
Another aspect that must not be forgotten is that the influence
of moral obligation over participative behavior in collective
action provides useful practical insight beyond the more scientific
interest it may have. It gives useful information to the organizers
of demonstrations, as promoting moral obligation could help
them attract more people to these acts. Moreover, it seems to be
a useful way to promote other kinds of behavior related to moral
considerations. For instance, framing a specific issue (e.g., climate
change) as a moral one and the behavior to promote an issue (e.g.,
recycling) as a moral obligation could allure people to engage in
that given action. There have already been enticing proposals on
how to promote specific kinds of collective actions (Guizzo et al.,
2017), and we believe that the promotion of a sense of moral
obligation could substantially aid promotional efforts.
As the present research has been performed entirely with Spanish
samples, the generalization of the findings to other contexts
remains to be tested. Political participation in general and
protest participation in particular are susceptible to contextual
differences (Klandermans et al., 2002). From here, we encourage
future research to replicate our findings abroad, to determine
if moral obligation is indeed a relevant, transcultural predictor
of collective action. The cultural context where protest takes
place and/or its subject could as well generate some differences
(Ketelaars et al., 2014;Sabucedo et al., 2017b). Additionally,
both scenarios of participation considered in this research are
limited to pacific actions (even when non-conventional intention
is measured) and also to actions that look to solve in-group
grievances. The fact that moral obligation implies a motivational
pressure to defend one’s moral beliefs, even when facing personal
costs, posits moral obligation as a potential useful predictor of
other kinds of actions like humanitarian (Thomas et al., 2016) or
even violent ones (Saab et al., 2016).
Another interesting puzzle for future research could be to
determine under what circumstances moral obligation may be
overridden. Although moral obligation seems to be a very
powerful motivation, there are times when people will go against
it even though that will, in theory, translate into a devaluated
self-concept. This devaluation is not likely to happen however,
as people will resort to cognitive strategies in order to reduce
cognitive dissonance and self-discrepancy, such as looking for
external causes for non-compliance (Greenwald and Banaji,
1995). The exploration of these compensatory strategies could
have great practical implications, as it allows organizers to know
what thoughts people use to overpass moral obligation, and thus
argue against them. Additionally, what is probably the most
exciting perspective for future research on the collective action
field is the integration of moral obligation into a predictive model
of collective action.
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Sabucedo et al. Moral Obligation and Collective Action
Now, to bring this paper to a close, it has to be said that we
believe the present research establishes moral and particularly
moral obligation as one of the main motivations for participating
in collective action. Moral obligation guarantees that convictions
and principles are not just mere cognitive-moral referents that
expresses themselves in favorable conditions, but are inhibited in
contexts that may imply high personal costs. In crisis situations,
as denounced by Dante Alighieri, confirmed by Hanna Arendt,
and outstanding social psychologists have shown, it is not
uncommon to find citizens who opt for indifference, “neutrality”
or looking the other way. Staub (2013) is explicit in pointing out
that passivity and complicity are often the same thing. In this
sense, moral obligation allows for engaging in collective actions
aimed at combating, for example, injustice and social inequality
that threatens, as the World Health Organization reminds us, the
welfare of citizens and communities. Thus, we avoid going to the
worst place in hell, reserved, as the Florentine poet promised, for
those who do not involve themselves with the problems of their
According to The APA Ethic Code, participants were informed
about: (a) the purpose of research, its estimated duration, and
procedures; (b) their right to decline participation or withdraw
it at all times; (c) the minimum potential risks this study
implied; (d) the confidentiality of the data, that was guaranteed
as the software used to gather the data allowed the researchers
to make responses non-trackable, as it was indeed done; (e)
whom to contact for questions about the research and research
participants’ rights. Considering this, the present study meets the
Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct proposed
by the American Psychological Association (2002) as well as
those ethical regulations made by the Ethical Committee of the
University of Santiago de Compostela for Social Science studies
with people, that is, fulfilling the requirements of informed
consent and data protection (Organic Law 15/1999). Also, this
work included a deception in Study 1. The deception was
considered necessary in order to place participants in a “pro-
protest” setting. Participants were informed of this deception as
soon as their participation had ended.
All the referred authors made significant contribution to the
present study. J-MS and MD took part in the conception, design,
and data analysis. MD also contributed with the drafting of the
paper and the data gathering. J-MS and MA worked in the critical
review of the article and wrote sections of it. GS contributed to
performing specialized data analysis. All authors contributed to
manuscript revision, read, and approved the submitted version.
This research was partly funded by the Spanish Ministry of
Economy and Competitiveness and the European Social Fund
(grants for excellence projects 2015: PSI2015-66608-P) and by the
Consellería de Cultura, Educación e Ordenación Universitaria,
Xunta de Galicia (grant no. ED431B 2016/017). The research
was also funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and
Competitiveness and the European Social Fund through the 2016
grants for predoctoral contracts (BDNS: 316231).
The Supplementary Material for this article can be found
online at:
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Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was
conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could
be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Copyright © 2018 Sabucedo, Dono, Alzate and Seoane. This is an open-access
article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
(CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided
the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original
publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.
No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these
Frontiers in Psychology | 12 March 2018 | Volume 9 | Article 418
... This governance mode has some shortcomings. On the one hand, the government is responsible obligation of individuals has a significant impact on their choice for collective action [15], but few scholars study PIM from the perspective of moral obligation. ...
... Due to potential opportunistic behavior, irrigation management cannot rely entirely on moral obligation or formal institutions for unilateral governance but needs both moral obligation and formal institutions to play a joint role to manage the situation collaboratively. While the formal institution restrains the opportunistic behavior in irrigation management [3,39], moral obligation can play a supplementary and supporting role from the perspective of the informal institution [15]. In this process, the formal institution may have a positive impact on the moral obligation of farmers. ...
... For the moral obligation variable, this study, referring to the research of Sabucedo and colleagues [15], selected the following four items: the sense of obligation, personal satisfaction, autonomy, and objectivity. ...
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Against the background of the agricultural tax reform and the disintegration of China’s rural collective agriculture system, participatory irrigation management (PIM) is the key to improving irrigation management performance. Based on the survey data of 712 peasant households in the Yellow River basin of China, this study employs multi-group structural equation modeling (SEM) to explore the impact of moral obligation and formal institutions on PIM. The results show that both moral obligation and formal institutions can significantly improve collective action. Collective action can markedly promote irrigation management performance, and the formal institution can significantly enhance the farmers’ moral obligation. Additionally, the results of the multi-group analysis show that the agricultural income level of households and their provinces can regulate the impact of moral obligation and formal institutions on PIM. Therefore, to improve irrigation management performance, strategies of intensifying moral obligation and refining formal institutions are recommended for governments and village committees.
... The concept of the social network was first proposed by R. Brown. Later, many scholars interpreted the connotation of the social network, and the description of the single dimension has changed to multi-dimensional [13]. Economic behavior is restricted by the social network, and the appropriate embedding of social network relationships can improve the quality of organizational resource acquisition [14][15][16][17][18][19]; effective network relationship embedding enables people to obtain information content through effective information channels [20]. ...
... In the field of the supply of public goods, good social network relations contribute to enhancing trust and expanding social exchange, thus improving the supply of public goods. The larger the stock of social capital between the farmers and villages, the higher the level of trust in the village, and the more actively the farmers participate in the supply of public goods [13,22,26,27]. However, because farmers may have different concerns within social network relationships, different dimensions of social capital have different impacts on Farmers' participation behavior [28]. ...
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The supply level of irrigation and water conservancy is related to the utilization efficiency of water resources, the production level of farmers, and the supply quality of agricultural products, especially relating to national food security and stability. Based on 1169 pieces of data collected from field surveys in three provinces of China in 2019, an evaluation system of social network relationships was constructed from five aspects: network scale, network tightness, trust and commitment, social atmosphere and sense of belonging, and social participation. These five aspects are the channels for farmers to obtain information. A binary logistic model was used to analyze the impact of the social network relationships on farmers’ participation in small water-saving irrigation and water conservancy facilities supply, and the key factors affecting farmers’ behavior were selected. The purpose of this study is to further improve the evaluation system of social network relationships and the study of the effect of social network relationships on farmers’ water-saving behaviors, enrich relevant theories and provide a feasible path for the implementation of water-saving irrigation from the macro initiative level. The results show that higher network closeness and policy satisfaction, water management experience, agricultural insurance, strong family decision-making power, etc., will reduce the likelihood of farmers participating in the supply of small water-saving irrigation and water conservancy facilities; increasing network compactness will increase the possibility of farmers’ participation in the supply; trust and commitment, social ethos and sense of belonging, social participation, and other factors have no significant influence on farmer participation behavior. It can be seen that network tightness and network scale play an important role in the behavior of farmers’ participation in public affairs. In conclusion, social network relationships will affect farmers’ participation in the supply of irrigation and water conservancy facilities, but different dimensions have different influences on it.
... III. MARCOS PARA LA ACCIÓN COLECTIVA Los marcos para la acción colectiva (MAC) son procesos de interpretación colectiva que legitiman y motivan la participación en movimientos sociales (Benford, 2013;McAdam, 2017;Snow et al., 2007). Gamson (1992Gamson ( /2011 propone los marcos de injusticia, identidad y eficacia como dimensiones prototípicas para analizar los MAC; no obstante, estudios posteriores presentan vínculos de estos marcos con orientaciones emocionales y morales (Jasper, 2011(Jasper, /2018Vilas et al., 2016;Turner-Zwinkels et al., 2017;Rico et al., 2017;Sabucedo et al., 2018;Cohen-Chen y Van Zomeren, 2018;Sabucedo et al., 2019;Klavina y Van Zomeren, 2020;Mironova y Witt, 2020;Sinha, 2020). ...
... En este sentido, la eficacia también está relacionada con logros y acciones para el cumplimiento de fines comunes. Que pueden ser morales cuando las personas actúan en defensa de aquello que consideran correcto (Jasper, 2018;Sabucedo et al., 2018;Sabucedo et al., 2019;Klavina y Van Zomeren, 2020). En estos casos, la acción colectiva es gratificante por sí misma (Noguera, 2007). ...
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Este trabajo ha tenido como propósito indagar sobre las motivaciones para participar en la insurgencia y en acciones colectivas posteriores al Acuerdo de paz-2016; con el fin de conocer continuidades y reconfiguraciones en marcos para la acción colectiva de injusticia, identidad y eficacia. Mediante un estudio cualitativo con 24 exguerrilleros líderes de iniciativas colectivas en los ETCR del Caribe colombiano (2017-2019), se evidencian sinergias entre estos marcos en función de la construcción de paz desde lo local.
... Moral obligation is the internalisation of positive behaviour norms by a person, which is mostly affected by internal constraints (Sabucedo et al. 2018). Milesi and Alberici (2018) stated that an individual's moral obligation should encourage them to comply with their conscience, despite what it may cost and whether it is likely to succeed. ...
... Milesi and Alberici (2018) stated that an individual's moral obligation should encourage them to comply with their conscience, despite what it may cost and whether it is likely to succeed. Moral obligation refers to an individual's internal motivation for engaging in ethical norms of behaviour, which primarily impacts human behaviour through internal restrictions (Sabucedo et al. 2018). From the perspective of tax, moral behaviour refers to the internal motivation or desire to pay tax (Kondelaji et al. 2016). ...
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Tax evasion remains a complex issue for tax authorities, policymakers, and researchers. While socio-psychological factors have been researched, their impact on tax evasion among SMEs has not yet been determined. This paper empirically analyses the effects of tax fairness, peer influence and moral obligation, on sales tax evasion among Jordanian SME owners/managers. A survey was used to obtain data from three regions of Jordan (north, middle, south). Random sampling was utilized in selecting the prospective respondents from SMEs in three sectors (trade, service, manufacturing). A total of 212 usable questionnaires retrieved from the SMEs were analysed using Smart-PLS 3.0. The results revealed that tax fairness and moral obligation had a significant negative effect on sales tax evasion behaviour among SME owner-managers. On the other hand, peer influence positively and significantly impacted sales tax evasion behaviour. Thus, policymakers and tax authorities should incorporate these factors in developing effective strategies to reduce tax evasion in Jordan, which could result in an improvement in the country’s overall revenue collection. The findings also contribute to the scarcity of literature about the significance of socio-psychological factors in mitigating tax evasion by examining the effects of tax fairness, peer influence, and moral obligation on sales tax evasion.
... Considering its nature, it is not surprising that research has recently examined morality as an important driver of collective action (Lodewijkx, Kersten, & van Zomeren, 2008;van Zomeren, Postmes, & Spears, 2012;Vilas & Sabucedo, 2012). Accordingly, research shows that moral obligation is associated with a greater willingness to participate in collective action (Milesi & Alberici, 2018;Sabucedo, Dono, Alzate, & Seoane, 2018;Sabucedo, Dono, Grigoryev, Gómez-Román, & Alzate, 2019). A key feature of moral obligation is fostering collective action participation in spite of political risks in regimes where repression by authorities or state representatives is highly likely. ...
... Moreover, moral obligation has the highest predictive power in explaining collective action participation compared to risk perceptions. This is in line with Sabucedo and colleagues' work which shows that moral obligation appeared as the strongest predictor for both collective action intention (Vilas & Sabucedo, 2012) and actual protest behavior (Sabucedo et al., 2018). In this sense, moral obligation may be conceptualized as the most proximal predictor of engaging in protests (Ayanian et al., 2021). ...
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The current research investigates whether moral obligation and perceived close vs. distant risks of high vs. moderate risk collective actions are associated with willingness to participate in collective action in the case of Turkey. Two studies were conducted: one with replaced university students after the July 15, 2016 coup d'état attempt (high-risk context; N₁ = 258) and one with climate strikes (moderate risk context; N₂ = 162). The findings showed that moral obligation predicts collective action in both studies, however, the strength of this relationship is contingent on the level of subjective likelihood of protest risk in the high-risk collective action (Study 1), but not in the moderate-risk collective action (Study 2). Study 2 extended the findings of Study 1 by showing that higher perceived climate crisis risks (e.g., extinction of many species, destroying the vast majority of vital resources; distant risk), but not risks of protest (e.g., being arrested, blacklisted; close risk) predicts higher willingness to participate in collective action. We discussed the role of moral obligation and different risk perceptions (e.g., distant, close, moderate, high) on climate movements and collective action of marginalized groups in repressive political contexts.
... Una línea muy importante ha sido la desarrollada en torno a la emocionalidad, la efervescencia colectiva y los procesos de identificación que se dan en los movimientos sociales, además de la forma en que el contagio emocional (Rimé, 2019) o el clima emocional en el contexto sociopolítico (Sabucedo et al., 2017) son elementos que alientan la movilización o se convierten en factores que están a la base de su acción, puesto que rabia, indignación o empatía pueden movilizar diversos grupos sociales en la búsqueda de reivindicaciones y equilibrios frente a una situación injusta, lo que incluye motivaciones morales e ideológicas que se configuran como deber e imperativo para una acción colectiva que genere transformaciones del orden social (Cruz Castillo, 2012;Jiménez Rodas et al., 2016;Sabucedo et al., 2011;Sabucedo et al., 2018;Sabucedo et al., 2019;Zumeta et al., 2020). ...
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El presente trabajo tiene como objetivo comprender las creencias sociales y orientaciones emocionales colectivas (OEC) sobre la protesta social en el marco del proceso de construcción de paz en Colombia. Se utilizó una metodología cualitativa con enfoque hermenéutico y se realizó un análisis de contenido sobre lo expresado en entrevistas semiestructuradas por 18 participantes, ciudadanos del común, quienes se asumieron ‘a favor de la protesta social’, ‘en contra de la protesta social’ y ‘ambivalentes’. Como resultados se contrastaron creencias y OEC favorables, como empatía y comprensión, con prejuicios y estigmas. Emergieron creencias sobre el “otro” opositor, como enemigo, expresiones de distancia social, discriminación, exclusión y odio; los medios de comunicación como mecanismos de configuración de estas creencias y OEC, asociadas al rechazo a los movimientos sociales, por parte de algunos participantes, alimentando un ambiente de polarización y reduciendo las posibilidades del reconocimiento del otro como ser humano.
... Research on collective action has recently emphasized the role of moral conviction, namely a strong moral belief about an issue, as one of the most powerful motivators for engagement in collective actions (e.g., van Stekelenburg et al., 2009;Jost et al., 2017;Milesi and Alberici, 2018;Sabucedo et al., 2018). When people hold a moral conviction about an issue (e.g., for example, when they believe that gender equality is part of their moral values) and this conviction is threatened (e.g., a government justifies the legitimacy of gender inequalities), they tend to reaffirm their threatened conviction by expressing stronger intentions to engage in collective actions (e.g., van Zomeren et al., 2011;van Zomeren, 2013). ...
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Over recent years, the role of men as women’s allies in the struggle for gender equality has become increasingly important. Previous research has shown that often men do not fight gender inequalities as they fail to recognize the severity of discrimination against women (e.g., in hiring). In this study ( N = 427), we examined whether men who experienced relative deprivation on behalf of women—a form of relative deprivation that stems from the awareness that women hold a less privileged position in society—were more motivated to engage in collective action to support gender equality in the workplace. The findings showed that men’s feelings of deprivation on behalf of women were associated with a greater willingness to engage in collective action for gender equality. This relationship was sequentially mediated by two emotional reactions related to deprivation—increased guilt about gender inequalities and decreased fear of a potential backlash—and the moral conviction of acting for gender equality. These results suggest that men’s awareness of gender inequality at work is an important antecedent to their acting in solidarity with women and that emotions and moral conviction are two psychological processes that turn cognition into behavior. Action to reduce gender inequalities should make men more sensitive to seeing that they hold a privileged position in society and to recognizing the pervasive and harmful nature of women’s deprivation.
... As Filleule and Tartakowski (2013) posit, participation in demonstrations are opportunities for constructing or reinforcing solidarity and collective identity as well as ritual occasions with socializing effects, and should reinforce factors conducive to collective action. Meta-analytical reviews support that factors conducive to collective action are social or collective identification (i.e., identification with an extended group; van Zomeren et al., 2008;Agostini and van Zomeren, 2021;Akfirat et al., 2021), collective efficacy Agostini and van Zomeren, 2021), negative emotions related to affective fraternal or collective deprivation Smith et al., 2012), agreement with self-trascendence values, that could reinforce moral conviction supportive of collective action (Sabucedo et al., 2018;Agostini and van Zomeren, 2021) as well as moral, positive and self-transcendent emotions like hope, that gave motivational support to the previous factors (Agostini and van Zomeren, 2021). Therefore, a clear hypothesis is that the participation in social and political collective protests should increase the level of these factors favorable to collective action. ...
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In this article, we review the conceptions of Collective Effervescence (CE) –a state of intense shared emotional activation and sense of unison that emerges during instances of collective behavior, like demonstrations, rituals, ceremonies, celebrations, and others– and empirical approaches oriented at measuring it. The first section starts examining Émile Durkheim's classical conception on CE, and then, the integrative one proposed by the sociologist Randall Collins, leading to a multi-faceted experience of synchronization (e.g., Páez and colleagues, 2015). Then, we analyze the construct as a process emerging in collective encounters when individuals contact with social ideal and values, referring to the classical work of Serge Moscovici as well as those more recent empirical approaches (e.g., Shira Grabriel and colleagues, 2017). Third, we consider CE as a set of intense positive emotions linked to processes of group identification, as proposed by authors of the Social Identity Theory tradition (e.g., Nick Hopkins and colleagues, 2016). Finally, we describe CE from the perspective of self-transcendence (e.g., emotions, experiences; Scott Draper, 2014), and propose a unified description of this construct. The second section shows the results of a meta-analytical integration (k = 50, N = 182738) aimed at analyzing CE’s proximal effects or construct validity (i.e.,Individual Emotions and Communal Sharing) as well as its association with more distal variables, such as Collective Emotions, Social Integration, Social Values and Beliefs and Empowerment. Results indicate that CE strongly associates with Individual Emotions –in particular, Self- Transcendent Emotions– and Communal Sharing constructs (e.g., Group Identity, Fusion of Identity), providing construct validity. Among the distal effects of CE, it is associated with Collective Positive Emotions, long-term Social Integration (e.g., Ingroup Commitment), Social Values and Beliefs and Empowerment-related variables (e.g., Well-Being, Collective Efficacy, Collective Self-Esteem). Among the moderation analyses carried out (e.g., study design, CE scale, type of collective gathering), the effects of CE in demonstrations are noticeable, where this variable is a factor that favors other variables that make collective action possible, such as Group Identity (rpooled = .52), Collective Efficacy (rpooled = .37), Negative and Self-Transcendent Emotions (rpooled = .14 and .58), and Morality-related beliefs (rpooled = .43).
Associating a social or political attitude with one’s subjective sense of moral right and wrong (i.e., imbuing the attitude with 'moral conviction') is related to a variety of positive and negative consequences. For example, holding an attitude with moral conviction predicts greater political engagement such as voting – a normatively positive outcome. However, it also predicts greater political intolerance – a normatively negative outcome. In this chapter, we review literature exploring moral conviction’s consequences and note that the majority of them are normatively negative. We propose two possible explanations for this 'negativity bias' in the past research. On the one hand, the asymmetry in favour of negative consequences could be due to moral conviction having more negative rather than positive outcomes. On the other hand, the asymmetry could result from researchers selecting particularly polarised issues that lead to negative outcomes rather than issues with moral consensus, which may have positive outcomes.
The Cambridge Handbook of Political Psychology provides a comprehensive review of the psychology of political behaviour from an international perspective. Its coverage spans from foundational approaches to political psychology, including the evolutionary, personality and developmental roots of political attitudes, to contemporary challenges to governance, including populism, hate speech, conspiracy beliefs, inequality, climate change and cyberterrorism. Each chapter features cutting-edge research from internationally renowned scholars who offer their unique insights into how people think, feel and act in different political contexts. By taking a distinctively international approach, this handbook highlights the nuances of political behaviour across cultures and geographical regions, as well as the truisms of political psychology that transcend context. Academics, graduate students and practitioners alike, as well as those generally interested in politics and human behaviour, will benefit from this definitive overview of how people shape – and are shaped by – their political environment in a rapidly changing twenty-first century.
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In times of crisis, political mobilizations increase. Many of them compete to impose a determined diagnosis of the situation. This work analyses this issue, taking into consideration two of the movements that have had a greater incidence during the crisis in Spain: The Catalonian National Assembly and the Marches for dignity. The objective is to know how the categories of aggrieved ingroup and outgroup responsible were identified and how both these movements defined the emotional climate at that moment. This work includes two studies. In the first one, an analysis of the categories identified in the manifestos published by these two movements was carried out. The results show that the Marches for dignity constructed a more inclusive ingroup identity and show a more negative emotional climate than the Catalonian National Assembly. The second study includes a sample of 919 participants and non-participants in 2 demonstrations called by those organizations. In this case MANOVAs of 2 (Type of demonstration: Catalonian National Assembly, Marches for dignity) × 2 (Type of participants: participants, non-participants) were performed. Results show that participants in both demonstrations have a higher level of injustice than non-demonstrators. Furthermore, demonstrators in Marches for dignity have a more negative perception of emotional climate than non-demonstrators. However, and contrary to the hypothesis, demonstrators of the Catalonian National Assembly have a more positive perception of emotional climate than non-demonstrators. The work explains these results in the socio-political context in which each of these movements acts and highlights the relevance of comparative investigation designs to further the knowledge of political mobilization dynamics.
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We present data on eighteen demonstrations against austerity politics. A distinction is made between demonstrations against the austerity measures governments are taking (11) and demonstrations against the governments that are taking these measures (7). In total, 3434 demonstrators completed a survey questionnaire inquiring about demographic characteristics, social and political embeddedness, mobilization channels, satisfaction with the way democracy works in their country, identification and motivation. We propose a theoretical framework for the comparison of participants in the two types of demonstrations. Employing anovas, manovas, and logistic regression analyses hypotheses derived from the theoretical framework are tested. With a proportion of correct classifications of 75.6% our model was able to satisfactorily account for the differences between the two types of demonstrations.
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Media often portray women as mere sexual objects, but to date no known research has explored relations between exposure to such media content and willingness to engage in collective action. In the present study, Italian participants (78 men; 81 women) were exposed to a nature TV documentary (Control video), a television clip portraying women as sexual objects (SO video), or to the same sexually objectifying television clip including a commentary against such degrading depiction of women (Critique SO video). After exposure to the Critique SO video, women, but not men, reported greater collective action proclivity and behavioral intention to support a protest against female sexual objectification, as compared to the Control condition. Importantly, results further demonstrated that anger was the mechanism underlying women's collective action proclivity, as well as intention to react. These findings suggest that media literacy messages in the form of critique videos may be valuable tools to promote more active and critical media consumption and that media specialists, concerned citizens, and social media activists may use such messages to motivate women to collectively take action against sexual objectification.
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Resumen Recientemente han surgido muchas movilizaciones por todo el mundo y su impacto a la hora de produ-cir el cambio social es de destacar. En este artículo haremos una revisión de cómo han evolucionado los últimos modelos de acción colectiva para poder en-tender mejor los retos contemporáneos en el campo de la protesta política. Los motivos más relevantes señalados por los autores para la promoción de la acción son: la identidad, la injusticia, la eficacia y la ira. Sin embargo, todavía quedan aspectos por me-jorar. Además de las variables mencionadas, hay ar-gumentos suficientes para incluir otros factores que han sido pasados por alto en la hegemonía de la ló-gica instrumental; hablamos de la obligación moral y de las emociones positivas. Hay una lógica deon-tológica en la protesta colectiva que puede explicar porqué los individuos no participan simplemente para obtener algún tipo de beneficio, sino que tam-bién pueden sentirse moralmente obligados a hacer-lo. Más aún, las emociones positivas tales como la esperanza, el orgullo y el optimismo pueden refor-zar la motivación. Otro aspecto importante es el pa-pel del contexto. Las características específicas del contexto político y de movilización pueden activar * Artículo de investigación.X
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Social psychological research has overlooked collective action in repressive contexts, where activists face substantial personal risks. This paper examines the social psychological processes motivating activists to engage in collective action in risky contexts. We investigate the idea that perceived risks due to government sanctions can galvanize action through fuelling anger, shaping efficacy beliefs, and increasing identification with the movement. We also argue that anger, efficacy, and identification motivate action intentions directly and indirectly through reducing the personal importance activists attach to these risks. We tested our hypotheses within a sample of Egyptian activists (N = 146) from two protest movements who protested against Morsi's government and the military interventions, respectively, during the 2013 anticoup uprising. In line with our hypotheses, the perceived likelihood of risks was positively associated with anger and identity consolidation efficacy and positively predicted action intentions indirectly through these variables. Risk was also associated with increased political efficacy, but only among antimilitary protesters. Anger and political efficacy predicted action intentions directly and indirectly through reduced risk importance. Results also highlighted differential significance of emotional and instrumental motives for the two protest movements. We discuss directions for future research on the motivators of collective action in repressive contexts.
The recent economic crisis shaped a new wave of protest in Europe mobilising thousands of people. Austerity measures brought not only the ‘usual suspects’ onto the streets, they also awoke less frequent demonstrators. What brought all these people to the streets? Are their motivations the same for participation in all demonstrations? We compare participants in two types of mobilisations against austerity: those called particularistic (which are reactions to particular anti-austerity issues), and those universalistic (which address much broader issues such as questioning the political system). We also compare two typologies of participants taking into account their participation history: regular and occasional protesters. Employing a two-by-two design defined by type of demonstration (Particularistic vs. Universalistic) and the individual’s participation history (Occasionals vs. Regulars), we found that the differences between demonstrations were smaller than those within types of protesters. Nevertheless, even in this period of hardship, motivation to participate in particularistic or universalistic protests differ depending on the perceptions of political system, ideological positioning and organisational embeddedness. Interaction analyses showed that different levels of identity, trust in institutions and satisfaction with democracy are crucial in driving people to participate in different types of demonstrations as occasionals or regulars.
The 21st century has borne witness to catastrophic natural and human-induced tragedies. These disasters necessitate humanitarian responses; however, the individual and collective bases of support are not well understood. Drawing on Duncan’s motivational model of collective action, we focus on how individual differences position a person to adopt group memberships and develop a “group consciousness” that provides the basis for humanitarian action. Longitudinal mediation analyses involving supporters of international humanitarian action (N = 384) sampled annually for 3 years provided support for the hypothesized model, with some twists. The results revealed that within time point, a set of individual differences (together, the “pro-social orientation”) promoted a humanitarian group consciousness that, in turn, facilitated collective action. However, longitudinally, there was evidence that a more general pro-social orientation undermined subsequent identification with, and engagement in, the humanitarian cause. Results are discussed in terms of understanding the interplay between individual and group in collective actions.