Perceived Societal Norms and Support for Social Change Among Sexual Minorities 

Eisner, L. (University of Lausanne), Hässler, T. (University of Zurich), Settersten, R., (Oregon State University), Turner-Zwinkels, F. (Tilburg University) 

Over the past years, sexual minorities have achieved greater acceptance in many countries across the world. Despite these positive developments, people might fail to update societal norms (i.e., perception of what most people approve/disapprove of) and, therefore, underestimate the level of approval toward sexual minorities. This phenomenon seems to particularly emerge in a time of social change (normative window). Yet it remains unclear whether the misperception of norms discourages or encourages individuals to engage in collective action to achieve greater equality. In Study 1, we show using a representative sample that Swiss residents indeed misperceive the societal norm toward sexual minorities to be more negative than it actually is (N = 830). Study 2 builds up on this finding, linking perceived societal norms and collective action tendencies among sexual minorities in Switzerland (N = 867). The results of this preregistered study indicate that negative perceptions of societal norms have mixed impacts on collective action intentions: Negative societal norms decreased perceived efficacy of a social movement which, in turn, reduced collective action intentions. Yet negative societal norms also increased collective action intentions via heightened anger about the legal situation as well as lowered the perception that the situation will get better even without a movement. 


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Emotion, Norms, and Pro-social behaviour