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   2012, Vol. 44 Issue (4) : 524-545     DOI:
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The Motivation Mechanism of Collective Action in Different Contexts
ZHANG Shu-Wei;WANG Er-Ping;ZHOU-Jie
(1 Center for Chinese Public Administration Research; School of Government, Sun Yet-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China)
(2 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China)
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Abstract  As the representation of social contradictions, collective action in China typically involves mass incidents which refer to the conflicts between certain civilians and local administration. A group member engages in collective action any time that he or she acts as a representative of a group and when the action is directed at improving the conditions for the entire group. This research, consisting of two experiments, focused on the motivation mechanism underlying collective action in different incident contexts (i.e., instrumental vs. non-instrumental) which were manipulated by using scenarios. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the moderating roles of group identity and incident contexts in the relationship between group relative deprivation and collective action. Moreover, the present study also explored the effects of group-based anger and group efficacy on collective action. The results indicated that:
First, regardless of incident context, group identity moderated the relation between group relative deprivation and collective action (or collective action intention). Specifically, when general group identity (i.e., identity with undergraduates) was salient, individuals with high general group identity were more likely to participate in collective action because group identity moderated the relation between group efficacy and collective action intention at different levels of group relative deprivation. That is, in the high group relative deprivation condition, when general group identity was salient, participants’ collective action intention increased as their group efficacy increased; while in the low group relative deprivation condition, group identity did not have a moderating effect. However, when special group identity (i.e., identity with undergraduates at a certain university) was salient, participants were very likely to engage in collective action and collective action intention increased regardless of group relative deprivation condition. In this process, group-based anger partially mediated the moderating effect of group identity on the relationship between group relative deprivation and collective action intention.
Second, incident context moderated the relation between group relative deprivation and collective action intention at different levels of group identity. Specifically, in the non-instrumental incident context, when general group identity was salient, participants’ collective action intention was better predicted by group relative deprivation; whereas in the instrumental incident context, participants with high group relative deprivation were more likely to engage in collective action than those with low group relative deprivation despite of the nonsignificant difference. In addition, group-based anger predicted collective action intention more strongly than group efficacy in the non-instrumental incident context. Nevertheless, group-based anger and group efficacy exerted equal impact on collective action intention in the instrumental incident context.
An important theoretical implication of this study is that it extends the dual-pathway model of collective action in different incident contexts at distinct levels of group relative deprivation. Furthermore, the current study provides a useful experimental paradigm involving the successful manipulation of incident contexts in the lab. Regarding practical implications, this research examines the social psychological mechanism underlying collective action in China by examining motivation, thus informing administrators and policy makers on how to monitor and reduce mass incidents in response to public administration.
Keywords group relative deprivation      group identity      instrumental incident context      non-instrumental incident context      collective action     
Corresponding Authors: WANG Er-Ping   
Issue Date: 28 April 2012
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ZHANG Shu-Wei
WANG Er-Ping
ZHOU-Jie
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ZHANG Shu-Wei,WANG Er-Ping,ZHOU-Jie. The Motivation Mechanism of Collective Action in Different Contexts[J]. , 2012, 44(4): 524-545.
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2012/V44/I4/524
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