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Sacred devotion through social interaction: Group-based values and psychological pathways to political activism and radicalism

Clark, Alison (2014) Sacred devotion through social interaction: Group-based values and psychological pathways to political activism and radicalism. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

While existing research has focused on the predictors of conventional political actions and more radical forms of action, experimental demonstrations of the emergence of different collective actions are scarce. This thesis considers how people come to endorse different action strategies for social change. I experimentally tested the effects of social interaction (present / absent) and group-based values (sacred / instrumental) in bringing about support for both political and more radical forms of collective action (N = 133). I predicted that interacting with like-minded others would lead to increased support for political engagement, whereas support for radicalised solutions would shift only when the issue was perceived to involve sacred values. As hypothesised, results showed that social interaction increased endorsement of political actions, and when sacred values were salient, fostered support for more extreme solutions. Data also provided empirical evidence for specific psychological markers of both politicised and radicalised actions. This thesis highlights how the energising effects of social interaction can be consequential for social change, by increasing commitments to political activism and fostering support for more extreme, potentially illegal or violent, solutions.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Supervisor: Thomas, Emma
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/24115
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