Collective Action from a Distance: Distance Shapes How People View Victims of Injustice and Decreases Willingness to Engage in Collective Action

The present research examines whether distance affects not only how people view victims of injustice, but also group members’ willingness to engage in collective action. Across two experiments, examining both spatial (Experiment 1) and temporal (Experiment 2) distance, distant victims were seen as less familiar and more likely to be viewed at a relatively more superordinate level of identity (less in terms of subgroup identity) compared to near victims. In addition, participants were less willing to engage in collective action on behalf of distant victims, relative to near victims. Across studies, decreased collective action on behalf of distant victims, relative to near victims, was explained by the tendency to view victims in a more abstract way—as less familiar (Experiment 2) and at a more superordinate level (Experiments 1 and 2). Across both studies, results also demonstrated that participants were less willing to engage in collective action on behalf of out-group targets, relative to in-group targets, which was explained by perceptions of familiarity (Experiment 2). Implications for collective action and more broadly social change are discussed.

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APA-Format Citation

Glasford, D., & Caraballo, K. (2015). Collective Action From a Distance: Distance Shapes How People View Victims of Injustice and Decreases Willingness to Engage in Collective Action. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 19(1), 27-42.