Start Date

11-10-2017 8:30 AM

Keywords

human rights, psychology, political psychology, emotions, advocacy

Abstract

The efforts of human rights organizations often hinge on their ability to attract public support. Scholarly work on human rights, however, has largely neglected the question of how and why human rights regimes or specific campaigns may attract supporters. This paper takes a micro-level approach, focused on the practical question of how and why some human rights issues attract wide bases of support while others do not.

I hypothesize that emotional reactions to human rights abuse will be a significant predictor of individuals’ choices to support a human rights campaign. To test this possibility, I conduct an experiment seeking to identify how emotional reactions relate to human rights attitudes and actions. After stimulating certain emotional reactions randomly, a survey measures the participants’ beliefs about certain human rights and gives the participant the chance to act by donating money and/or signing a petition.

The central hypothesis is that individuals primed to feel disgust will be the most prone to act, and the experimental design provided an unambiguous way to test that theory. My results support the conclusion that disgust is a particularly powerful motivator of actions that support human rights. The finding has considerable implications for our understanding of the relationship between human rights campaigns and the audiences they target, and it provides fruitful avenues for further research into the emotional and psychological correlates of human rights advocacy.

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Nov 10th, 8:30 AM

Emotional Correlates of Human Rights Support

The efforts of human rights organizations often hinge on their ability to attract public support. Scholarly work on human rights, however, has largely neglected the question of how and why human rights regimes or specific campaigns may attract supporters. This paper takes a micro-level approach, focused on the practical question of how and why some human rights issues attract wide bases of support while others do not.

I hypothesize that emotional reactions to human rights abuse will be a significant predictor of individuals’ choices to support a human rights campaign. To test this possibility, I conduct an experiment seeking to identify how emotional reactions relate to human rights attitudes and actions. After stimulating certain emotional reactions randomly, a survey measures the participants’ beliefs about certain human rights and gives the participant the chance to act by donating money and/or signing a petition.

The central hypothesis is that individuals primed to feel disgust will be the most prone to act, and the experimental design provided an unambiguous way to test that theory. My results support the conclusion that disgust is a particularly powerful motivator of actions that support human rights. The finding has considerable implications for our understanding of the relationship between human rights campaigns and the audiences they target, and it provides fruitful avenues for further research into the emotional and psychological correlates of human rights advocacy.