Event Title

Motivations behind Joining Social Movement Organizations

Poster Number

069

Session Title

Crime and Political Issues

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Hayes, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

This study examined the effect of uncertainty and life history strategy on whether people join a Social Movement Organization (SMO) for sanctuary or agency. While previous research has identified sanctuary and agency as two main reasons people join SMOs, no studies have examined factors that might affect which reason would be more influential. Life history (LH) theory predicts that people coming from stable childhood (slow LH) would be more likely to invest effort in long-term change (agency), while people from harsher, more unstable childhood (fast LH) would be more likely to join a SMO for short-term benefits (sanctuary). Based on Uncertainty Identity Theory, greater uncertainty should magnify these effects. All 215 participants belonged to at least one SMO and completed three online measures assessing LH strategy, reasoning for joining their SMO (sanctuary or agency), and current uncertainty. As predicted, fast LH strategy leads to stronger sanctuary motives; however, greater uncertainty did not intensify this effect. Instead, greater uncertainty reduced sanctuary motives among slow LH participants. Contrary to prediction, this same pattern of results was observed for agency motives. The results suggest that fast LH strategy increases both agency and sanctuary motives; however, these motives are unaffected by uncertainty. Whereas Uncertainty Identity Theory predicts that greater uncertainty should drive people to greater group affiliation, the present results suggest that greater uncertainty has the opposite effect for those with slow LH strategy, prompting greater disengagement.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Motivations behind Joining Social Movement Organizations

This study examined the effect of uncertainty and life history strategy on whether people join a Social Movement Organization (SMO) for sanctuary or agency. While previous research has identified sanctuary and agency as two main reasons people join SMOs, no studies have examined factors that might affect which reason would be more influential. Life history (LH) theory predicts that people coming from stable childhood (slow LH) would be more likely to invest effort in long-term change (agency), while people from harsher, more unstable childhood (fast LH) would be more likely to join a SMO for short-term benefits (sanctuary). Based on Uncertainty Identity Theory, greater uncertainty should magnify these effects. All 215 participants belonged to at least one SMO and completed three online measures assessing LH strategy, reasoning for joining their SMO (sanctuary or agency), and current uncertainty. As predicted, fast LH strategy leads to stronger sanctuary motives; however, greater uncertainty did not intensify this effect. Instead, greater uncertainty reduced sanctuary motives among slow LH participants. Contrary to prediction, this same pattern of results was observed for agency motives. The results suggest that fast LH strategy increases both agency and sanctuary motives; however, these motives are unaffected by uncertainty. Whereas Uncertainty Identity Theory predicts that greater uncertainty should drive people to greater group affiliation, the present results suggest that greater uncertainty has the opposite effect for those with slow LH strategy, prompting greater disengagement.