How an election loss leads to a social movement: Reactions to the 2016 U.S. presidential election among liberals predict later collective action and social movement identification

Rezarta Bilali, Erin Brooke Godfrey, Samuel Hansen Freel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Donald J. Trump's 2016 presidential election victory spurred strong reactions and unprecedented collective action in the American Left. Taking advantage of the political climate in the wake of the election, this study examined whether the main antecedents of collective action (anger, political identification, and efficacy beliefs) in the immediate aftermath of the election loss for the American Left predicted varying types of collective action and social movement identification one month into Trump's presidency, and whether these factors in turn fuel anger and influence efficacy beliefs. Data collected from 913 self-identified liberal Clinton supporters at two time points (respectively, 7–10 days following the election and one month into Trump's presidency) revealed that political identification, anger, and efficacy to oppose Trump at Time 1 predicted engagement in collective action during the first month of Trump's presidency as well as higher identification with the emerging movement. While efficacy to oppose Trump predicted higher social movement identification, efficacy to change hearts and minds predicted lower social movement identification. We also examined the iterative processes of collective action, showing that the anger route was more central to galvanizing collective action than the efficacy route. These findings extend collective action research to contexts of emerging social movements following electoral processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-247
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020



  • anger
  • collective action
  • efficacy
  • political and social movement identification
  • presidential election

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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