Testing the Dual Pathway Model in China



Cui Lijuan, a professor of ECNU’s School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, and her research team recently made a study of the application of the dual pathway model, a robust and well-supported framework to explore the social psychological antecedents of collective action, in the unique Chinese context. The research result, The Dual Pathway of Collective Action: Impacts of Types of Collective Action and Social Identity, has been accepted by Group Processes & Intergroup Relationsa peer-reviewed and published bi-monthly journal dedicated to research on social psychological processes within and between groups.


Cui Lijuan explains the study of the dual pathway model in China.


The psychological antecedents of collective action, where individuals act on behalf of their group to challenge disadvantage or injustice have been the target of focused research for decades. The dual pathway model is well established as a robust and versatile framework for understanding predictors of collective action. However, its predictions have been the focus of extensive research in the West but not in the East. Cui and her colleagues’ research represents the first empirical test of this model in China.


“Chinese society is undergoing rapid transformations. The instability associated with large-scale and fast social change also means that old structures have lost their utility to deal with problems at hand. ” said Cui. According to her, observing new ways in which society is organized and responds to problems that arise also means that citizens are more likely to question reality as the only possible and fair reality. This awareness also leads them to consider unjust or illegitimate disadvantage, sparking feelings of relative deprivation and collective anger. The widespread societal change that China is facing thus offers a unique opportunity to study the potential for collective action in contexts marked by rapid social change to the structure of society.


In three experiments, Cui and her colleagues manipulated procedural fairness and group-based anger and group efficacy to investigate the independent pathways of anger and efficacy for collective action in China, as well as the pathways to “soft” (low-cost) and “hard” (high-cost) collective action. Their results supported the dual pathway model of collective action: group-based anger and perceived group efficacy independently predicted collective action intentions protesting against increased school fees and unhygienic cafeteria conditions for Chinese university students. Group-based anger predicted soft collective action intentions; both anger and efficacy predicted hard collective action intentions. Identification with the disadvantaged group was found to moderate the problem-focused coping pathway for hard collective action intentions. For high but not low identifiers, manipulated group efficacy predicted hard collective action intentions.



Written by: Liu Jinyu


East China Normal University