From Thought to Deed: Understanding Abortion Activism1


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    The authors wish to thank Suzanna Rose for her helpful comments on this project and the organizations that graciously agreed to assist in data collection.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jayne E. Stake, Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63121, e-mail:


Many people have opinions on abortion, but relatively few contribute a substantial amount of time and effort to actively support their causes. This study investigated factors associated with level of activism in the abortion movement. The issue was addressed from a cost-benefit framework based on theory and research from other social movements. In a sample drawn from pro-life and pro-choice organizations, activism was related to attitude salience, attitude polarization, social ties to abortion activists, and agentic self-esteem. Potential constraint variables (e.g., employment) and social approval from important others showed little relation to activism. Factors affecting activism were similar for pro-choice and pro-life activists. Findings were generally consistent with studies of political activism for other social causes.