When Are Social Protests Effective?

Eric Shuman*, Amit Goldenberg, Tamar Saguy, Eran Halperin, Martijn van Zomeren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Around the world, people engage in social protests aimed at addressing major societal problems. Certain protests have led to significant progress, yet other protests have resulted in little demonstrable change. We introduce a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of social protest made up of three components: (i) what types of action are being considered; (ii) what target audience is being affected; and (iii) what outcomes are being evaluated? We then review relevant research to suggest how the framework can help synthesize conflicting findings in the literature. This synthesis points to two key conclusions: that nonviolent protests are effective at mobilizing sympathizers to support the cause, whereas more disruptive protests can motivate support for policy change among resistant individuals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)252-263
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • collective action
  • effectiveness
  • social change
  • social movements


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