Explaining Normative Versus Nonnormative Action: The Role of Implicit Theories

Eric Shuman, Smadar Cohen-Chen, Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler, Eran Halperin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The current research investigates what motivates people to engage in normative versus nonnormative action. Prior research has shown that different emotions lead to different types of action. We argue that these differing emotions are determined by a more basic characteristic, namely, implicit theories about whether groups and the world in general can change. We hypothesized that incremental theories (beliefs that groups/the world can change) would predict normative action, and entity theories (beliefs that groups/the world cannot change) as well as group identification would predict nonnormative action. We conducted a pilot in the context of protests against a government plan to relocate Bedouin villages in Israel and a main study during the Israeli social protests of the middle class. Results revealed three distinct pathways to collective action. First, incremental theories about the world predicted hope, which predicted normative action. Second, incremental theories about groups and group identification predicted anger, which also predicted normative collective action. Lastly, entity theories about groups predicted nonnormative collective action through hatred, but only for participants who were highly identified with the group. In sum, people who believed in the possibility of change supported normative action, whereas those who believed change was not possible supported nonnormative action.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)835-852
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 International Society of Political Psychology


  • anger
  • collective action
  • emotions
  • hatred
  • hope
  • implicit theories
  • nonnormative action


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