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Keywords:

  • Women’s rights activism;
  • political activists;
  • groupconsciousness;
  • feminism

Prior research on political activism focused on direct predictors of collective action (e.g., life experiences), with little attention paid to what psychologically motivates individuals to act. The group consciousness literature provides an obvious psychological motive for activism, but ignores individual difference variables that differentiate people who develop group consciousness from those who do not. This article integrates the two literatures on activism and group consciousness, and presents a model whereby group consciousness mediates relationships between collective action and personality and life experiences. The general model was evaluated empirically by examining feminist consciousness and women's rights activism in two samples. Feminist consciousness was found to mediate relationships between activism and anumber of personality and life experience variables, including low authoritarianism, political salience, sexual oppression, and education about women's position in society. The possible extension of this model to other kinds of political activism is discussed.