Research on system justification theory suggests that justifying the societal status quo decreases negative emotions, leading to less collective action. In this investigation, we propose that the degree to which negative emotions mediate the link between system justification and collective action may depend upon whether individuals tend to suppress the expression of their negative emotions. We tested this hypothesis in the diverse socio-political contexts of Turkey, Israel, and the U.S. In one correlational study (Study 1) and three experimental studies (Studies 2–4), we observed that the link between system justification and willingness to participate in collective action through anger (Studies 1–2 and 4) and guilt (Study 3) was moderated by expressive suppression. We found that negative emotions mediated the association between system justification and collective action among those who suppress the expression of their emotions less frequently, but not those who use expressive suppression more frequently. These findings suggest that emotion regulation may undermine, rather than facilitate, efforts to engage in collective action even among people who are low in system justification.
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© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
- Collective action
- Collective guilt
- Emotion regulation
- Expressive suppression
- System justification
- System-based anger