The role of efficacy and moral outrage norms in creating the potential for international development activism through group-based interaction


Correspondence should be addressed to Emma F. Thomas, School of Psychology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 0200 Australia (e-mail:


This paper adopts an intergroup perspective on helping as collective action to explore the ways to boost motivation amongst people in developed countries to join the effort to combat poverty and preventable disease in developing countries. Following van Zomeren, Spears, Leach, and Fischer's (2004) model of collective action, we investigated the role of norms about an emotional response (moral outrage) and beliefs about efficacy in motivating commitment to take action amongst members of advantaged groups. Norms about outrage and efficacy were harnessed to an opinion-based group identity (Bliuc, McGarty, Reynolds, & Muntele, 2007) and explored in the context of a novel group-based interaction method. Results showed that the group-based interaction boosted commitment to action especially when primed with an (injunctive) outrage norm. This norm stimulated a range of related effects including increased identification with the pro-international development opinion-based group, and higher efficacy beliefs. Results provide an intriguing instantiation of the power of group interaction (particularly where strengthened with emotion norms) to bolster commitment to positive social change.