Activists are unpopular: Social psychologists say people want them to calm down.

Everyone Hates Activists

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Jan. 14 2014 2:32 PM

Everyone Hates Activists

Via Tyler Cowen, some research pointing to the idea that people don't like the kind of people who push for change even when they like the change:

When you picture a feminist or an environmental campaigner, what kind of a person do you think of? If you're like the US and Canadian participants in this new paper, then you'll have in mind an eccentric, militant, unhygienic person. Nadia Bashir and her colleagues say this commonly held stereotype of an activist is partly responsible for the sluggishness of social change. Large sections of the public agree with activists' messages, but are put off by not wanting to affiliate themselves with the kind of person they think makes an activist.
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Which isn't to say that people shouldn't be activists. I've read that during the 1950s and 1960s, most white Americans always took the view that Jim Crow was wrong but also that civil rights leaders were pushing too hard and too fast. In retrospect, I don't think that's what anyone thinks. But it's annoying to be pressured to change things.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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