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Rebel with a Cause: Personal Significance from Political Activism Predicts Willingness to Self‐Sacrifice


Given the social importance of political activism, it is critical to understand what motivates individuals to engage in it. Past research has predominantly focused on individual and collective frustrations as factors that motivate political actions. At the same time, the role of the positive experiences that activists gain from their political engagement was largely neglected. Drawing on quest for significance theory, we proposed that when people engage in political actions on behalf of important social values, they gain a sense of personal significance, and as a result of these positive feelings, they are more willing to self‐sacrifice for the cause in the future. We tested that hypothesis in six studies, which included both online and offline samples of political activists engaged in different forms of activism that challenge the neoliberal order: activism for a radical left‐wing party (N = 84), a pro‐democratic social movement (N = 1,409), feminist activism (N = 158, N = 258), environmental activism (N = 396), and activism for labor and healthcare rights (N = 156). The results we obtained were in line with our hypothesized model. We discuss the implications of our findings for individuals who want to mobilize support for political movements.

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Full Citation:

Jasko, Katarzyna, Marta Szastok, Joanna Grzymala-Moszczynska, Marta Maj, and Arie W. Kruglanski. 2019. "Rebel with a Cause: Personal Significance from Political Activism Predicts Willingness to Self‐Sacrifice." Journal of Social Issues (February). https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/josi.12307

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