Does crossing a moral line justify collective means? Explaining how a perceived moral violation triggers normative and nonnormative forms of collective action

Inga L. Pauls*, Eric Shuman, Martijn van Zomeren, Tamar Saguy, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

In three studies conducted in the United States, we examined whether a perceived moral violation motivates willingness to engage in normative and more radical collective action. Using value-protection and identity-formation models, we explored whether increased endorsement of moral convictions and relevant opinion-based group identification could explain such effects. Study 1, using the “travel ban” for Muslims as the focal issue, experimentally found that a strong violation, compared to a weak violation, increased normative and nonnormative collective action, moral convictions and opinion-based group identification. Study 2 replicated these results in a longitudinal design and supported a mediating effect of increased endorsement of moral convictions and opinion-based group identity. Study 3 used a real-world violation (the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreements) to replicate the findings cross-sectionally. We conclude that a perceived moral violation motivates normative and nonnormative collective action because the violation makes one's moral conviction and opinion-based group identification more salient.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)105-123
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. European Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • moral conviction
  • moral violation
  • nonnormative collective action
  • normative collective action
  • value protection

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