Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict





First Page


Last Page



What factors impact how people mobilize against state human rights abuses? Drawing on Image Theory, we examine how perceptions of an out-group, government abuse, and sociopolitical orientations impact political action. Using an online survey-embedded experiment with a sample of 2,932 U.S. adults, we manipulated two factors: (1) the level of government abuse and (2) the risk of punishment for taking action against the state, while also including social dominance orientation (SDO) and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) as covariates. Participants indicated their propensity to engage in and justify both protest and violence. Participants rated the out-group as oppressive and evil. State abuse of human rights was associated with more oppressive and evil out-group images. Oppressive out-group images increased protest engagement and justification, whereas evil out-group images increased violence engagement and justification. Abuse increased all forms of action and justifications for them. Oppressive and evil images mediated many of the relationships between abuse, SDO, and RWA on one hand and political action on the other.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict on March 16, 2021, available online:

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.