Modeling collective action through media to promote social change and positive intergroup relations in violent conflicts

Rezarta Bilali, Johanna Ray Vollhardt, Jason Ray David Rarick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Does social influence exerted through role modeling of collective action impact social change in contexts that are not conducive to collective action, such as long-lasting violent conflicts? We examined this question in two field experiments in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We created two versions of an episode of an existing media intervention (a show aiming to promote positive social change), in which fictional characters either planned collective action (role modeling condition), or did not plan action (control condition) to address grievances. In Study 1, role modeling affected individual-level outcomes: it increased perceived collective efficacy and willingness to take action, but exacerbated intergroup attitudes and reduced tolerance. Study 2 tested the influence of role modeling on a group-level outcome (group discussions). Discussions following the role modeling show focused less on grievances, and included more positive lessons of the show, as well as more statements about collective efficacy and collective action. The findings highlight the influence of role modeling of collective action through media on efficacy and action for social change, but caution against unintended consequences on intergroup attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-211
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume68
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Collective action
  • Discussion
  • Intergroup conflict
  • Media
  • Role modeling
  • Social influence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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