Pathways to Collective Protest: Calculation, Identification, or Emotion? A Critical Analysis of the Role of Group-Based Anger in Social Movement Participation


*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stefan Stürmer, Institut für Psychologie, FernUniversität in Hagen, 58084 Hagen, Germany. Tel: +49 (0) 2331 987 2776, Fax: +49 (0) 2331 987 4730 [e-mail:].


The dual-pathway model of collective action proposes two motivational pathways to collective protest, one is based on cost–benefit calculations and another is based on collective identification. The present research examined the role of feelings of group-based anger as an additional path. Study 1, a field study in the context of students’ protest in Germany (N= 201), provided evidence for a unique effect of anger. Study 2, a laboratory experiment (N= 182), examined the desire to release aggressive tension as a psychological process underlying this effect. As hypothesized, analyses confirmed that anger affected participants’ willingness to protest only to the extent that this behavior provided the opportunity of cathartic reduction in aggressive tensions. Moreover, an experimental manipulation providing an alternative means to release tension reduced the relationship between anger and willingness to protest to nonsignificance. The implications of these findings for reconceptualizing the role of anger in collective protest are discussed.