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Abstract

Despite recognizing the need for social change in areas such as social equality and environmental protection, individuals often avoid supporting such change. Researchers have previously attempted to understand this resistance to social change by examining individuals' perceptions of social issues and social change. We instead examined the possibility that individuals resist social change because they have negative stereotypes of activists, the agents of social change. Participants had negative stereotypes of activists (feminists and environmentalists), regardless of the domain of activism, viewing them as eccentric and militant. Furthermore, these stereotypes reduced participants' willingness to affiliate with ‘typical’ activists and, ultimately, to adopt the behaviours that these activists promoted. These results indicate that stereotypes and person perception processes more generally play a key role in creating resistance to social change. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.