Some Sociopsychological Characteristics of Student Political Activists



A variety of hypotheses regarding the motives, values, attitudes, intelligence, and sociological backgrounds of leftist student activists were tested by comparing Yale undergraduate signers of a pledge to resist induction into the Armed Services, with a representative sample of nonsigners. Contrary to previous findings, the signers neither were better students nor more sociologically privileged than their nonsigning peers. The decision to sign the pledge appeared to be a single manifestation of an anti-institutional, yet nonfatalistic and nonauthoritarian life style which is highlighted by a marked concern with developing helpful, protective, intimate relationships and a devaluation of achievement, deference to authority, and self-restraint. The implications of these and other findings for the student protest movement are discussed.