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Title: Political action and social change : moral emotions, automaticity and imagination
Author: Sweetman, Joseph
ISNI:       0000 0004 2732 5956
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis develops three independent lines of investigation on the social psychology of political action and social change. Rather than developing a grand theory, I focus on adapting current perspectives in the social psychology of emotion, automaticity, goals and mental simulation to the study of political action and social change. The approach taken is eclectic both theoretically and methodologically. In Chapter 1, I review the social psychology of political action and social change. In doing so, I conceptualise political action and social change and explore current explanations of these phenomena. I also introduce moral emotions, automaticity and imagination in order to mark the way for the subsequent chapters. In Chapter 2, I examine the role of the moral emotions in political action and social change. Specifically, I explore the antecedents and consequences of anger, sympathy, and admiration. Drawing on theories of intergroup relations and emotion, I show that legitimate status, competence, and warmth all elicit admiration. Notably, admiration towards the authorities and centres of group power inhibits political action aimed at challenging the social order. However, when the target of admiration is a subversive hero or “martyr”, admiration uniquely predict willingness to challenge the status quo. In Chapter 3 I investigate the role of automaticity in political action. More specifically, I develop a dual process account of political action. I demonstrate that controlled (vs. automatic) processes lead to an increase in political action tendencies in members of a disadvantaged group. Notably, automatic protest attitudes influence political action through anger. That is, the more positive one’s automatic protest attitudes are the more anger they feel in relation to group grievances. Notably, automatic attitudes are more likely to predict political action when one is low in the motivation and ability to deliberate on political issues. In Chapter 4 I examine the role of imagination in political action and social change. I demonstrate that being able to imagine a particular social change goal (e.g., revolution or reform) uniquely predict political action tendencies aimed at that goal. Notably, imagination also qualifies the influence of efficacy and anger on politic action tendencies. Put simply, anger only predicts political action for collective mobility when group members can imagine this social change goal. In addition, efficacy only predicts action aimed at revolution when one can imagine an alternative social system (e.g., economy). In Chapter 5 I draw some conclusions, and discuss the limitations and issues that arise from the work presented here. Finally, I propose some avenues for future research. In iii addition, I put forward a typology of social change in the hope that it will engender future work on the social psychology of political action and social change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology