The Political Psychology of Civil Resistance
Arves, Stephen Conrad
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What shapes individual attitudes about civil resistance? Chapter 1 introduces the topic, provides an overview of contemporary civil resistance research, and outlines the key findings. Chapter 2 constructs a five-pronged political psychology theory of civil resistance based on emotions, efficacy, identification with a movement and other people, message frames, and political ideology. I argue that (a) happiness and anger increase civil resistance support, but that fear decreases it; (b) pragmatic message frames will increase civil resistance support; (c) identification with the movement or with other people increases civil resistance support; (d) high personal and group-efficacy increase civil resistance support, and (e) political liberals show higher levels of civil resistance support than political conservatives. Chapters 3 utilizes an original survey experiment to measure civil resistance support leading up to the 2017 People’s Climate March. Contrary to my expectations, both anger and fear make engaging in environmental civil resistance appear more risky. Different message frames have only a minimal impact on individuals’ evaluations of the risks of engaging in environmental civil resistance. Identification with the environmental movement, efficacy, and liberal political ideology increase environmental civil resistance support. Chapters 4 and 5 extend my argument beyond the United States and consider the global context. Chapter 4 studies environmental activism, specifically environmental demonstration participation and donating to environmental organizations, for over 61,000 participants in 50 countries. The analysis reveals that happiness, high levels of efficacy, and identification with environmental movements correspond with higher levels of environmental civil resistance participation. Chapter 5 also uses global survey data to examine participation in four forms of civil resistance: petition signing, peaceful demonstrations, boycotts, and, strikes. I find that happiness correlates with petition signing but unhappiness corresponds with peaceful demonstrations and boycotts and cosmopolitanism positively corresponds with petitions, peaceful demonstrations, and boycotts. Political efficacy and political liberalism are also positively related to civil resistance participation in all measures. Chapter 6 restates the main findings and discusses avenues for future research.