Disadvantaged group activists’ attitudes toward advantaged group allies in social movements


Allyship is a growing phenomenon in many organizational contexts, and the involvement of advantaged group allies in identity-oriented social movements (e.g., men in the feminist movement) is ubiquitous. However, the impression that these advantaged group allies make on their intended beneficiaries is unclear. Over the course of four studies, we explore disadvantaged group activists’ attitudes toward their advantaged group allies. We find converging evidence that disadvantaged group activists prefer advantaged group allies who engage in actions that demonstrate high levels of trustworthiness (e.g., selflessness, loyalty) and low levels of influence (e.g., centrality, power) in the movement, whereas non-activists show only a significant preference on the influence dimension. This evidence was observed in a survey of 117 social movement activists (Study 1), and in three experiments with 752 liberal women and nonbinary individuals (Study 2), 305 feminist social movement activists (Study 3), and a separate sample of 805 feminist social movement activists (Study 4). Taken together, our research documents the causal effects that different allyship behaviors have on beneficiaries’ attitudes toward advantaged group allies (Studies 2, 3, & 4) while recruiting samples of currently engaged movement activists to solicit their unique perspectives (Studies 1, 3, & 4). We thereby identify the specific ways of being an advantaged group ally that elicit the most positive impressions from their intended beneficiaries, which have direct implications for supporting intergroup coalitions and social change.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology