… Assuming their goal is to win popular support, how far can protesters go before their tactics become a hindrance, prompting backlash instead of winning hearts and minds? Are disruptive or violent acts of protest effective in winning support for a cause?
In the past year, we conducted experiments to assess how people respond to what we call “extreme protest tactics,” tactics that are highly disruptive or harmful to others, such as inciting or engaging in violence, blocking traffic and damaging property. Our results suggest that these tactics consistently fail to win popular support for social movements.
We find that they are more likely to backfire, prompting backlash and encouraging people to turn away from the cause. CONT.
Robb Willer (Stanford) & Matthew Feinberg (U. of Toronto), Washington Post