New psychology research finds extreme…

New psychology research finds extreme protest actions reduce popular support for social movements.

The researchers conducted six experiments with 3,399 participants in total, in which they assessed how different types of protest behaviors influenced support for a variety of progressive and conservative social causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-abortion movement. They found that more extreme behaviors — such as the use of inflammatory rhetoric, blocking traffic, and vandalism — consistently resulted in reduced support for social movements.

The researchers also found evidence that extreme protest actions led to a loss of support because they were viewed as immoral. These perceptions of immorality were associated with reduced feelings of emotional connection and less social identification with the movement.

The new study is in line with research that analyzed all mass uprisings around the world between 1945-2014, finding that nonviolent campaigns were more successful at bringing about large-scale political transformation than violent campaigns.