Advocating for controversial issues: The effect of activism on compliance‐gaining strategy likelihood of use

Kenzie A. Cameron*, Shelly Campo, Dominique Brossard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Previous research has demonstrated that compliance‐gaining strategies can he arrayed on an unidimensional continuum, anchored by positive, pro‐social strategies and negative, antisocial strategies (Hunter & Boster, 1987; Rolojf & Barnicott, 1978, 1979). Individual differences, including argumentativeness and verbal aggression (Boster & Levine, 1988), have been shown to affect one's ethical threshold. This ethical threshold is consistent with a Guttman simplex and determines both how many, as well as how antisocial, compliance‐gaining strategies individuals may consider using. Activists, who are highly involved and committed to their cause and who tend to be less verbally aggressive and more argumentative than the general public (Campo, 1999), are likely to have a lower threshold and to use more strategies. This study examines to what extent activism predicts one's ethical threshold, when controlling for the known effects of argumentativeness, verbal aggressiveness, and sex. Participants (N = 454) at two separate universities completed a repeated measures questionnaire that asked them to indicate their likelihood of use of 25 separate compliance‐gaining strategies. Based on respondents’ likelihood of use of these 25 strategies, the data were consistent with a Guttman simplex. A multiple regression model was tested, and indicated that one's ethical threshold is directly predicted by level of activism and verbal aggressiveness. Sex and argumentativeness were not found to be significant predictors in this revised model. In addition, activists used more strategies than non‐activists. Implications for advancing research related to activism and compliance‐gaining strategy selection are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
JournalCommunication Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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