Weapons of peace: Providing alternative means for social change reduces political violence

Birga M. Schumpe, Jocelyn J. Bélanger, Mauro Giacomantonio, Claudia F. Nisa, Ambra Brizi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present research demonstrates how support for political violence can be reduced by providing peaceful alternatives to produce social change. In Study 1, participants watched a video documenting the activities of a violent activist group, and then either watched a video of a peaceful activist group supporting the same cause or a control video. Participants that watched the peaceful activist group reported less support for the violent activist group than participants in the control condition. Study 2 replicated and extended Study 1 by testing the underlying psychological mechanism. In line with goal systems theory, providing participants with a peaceful alternative to produce social change (vs. no alternative) reduced the perceived instrumentality of the violent group to further the ideological cause, leading to lower support for the violent group. Implications for anti-violence campaigns are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-558
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • alternative means
  • goal-systems
  • means instrumentality
  • political violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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