Zero-sum beliefs shape advantaged allies' support for collective action

Anna Stefaniak*, Robyn K. Mallett, Michael J. A. Wohl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Three studies (N1 = 1,019; N2 = 312; N3 = 494) tested whether seeing intergroup relations as inherently antagonistic shaped advantaged social groups' allyship intentions. More specifically, we tested whether endorsing zero-sum beliefs related to their willingness to support system-challenging and system-supporting collective action. Zero-sum beliefs were negatively correlated with system-challenging and positively correlated with system-supporting collective action intentions. Zero-sum beliefs were more common among advantaged than disadvantaged groups and translated into lower allyship intentions. Advantaged group members with higher levels of zero-sum beliefs were also more likely to experience anger and fear when considering the demographic racial shift in the United States. Increased fear was associated with greater support for system-supporting and lower support for system-challenging collective action. We find consistent evidence that advantaged group members see intergroup relations as a zero-sum game and that these beliefs are negatively related to their intentions to become allies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1259-1275
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2020


  • Allies
  • Collective action
  • Intergroup attitudes
  • Racial demographic shift
  • Zero-sum beliefs


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