Divide and conquer? Identity, threat, and moral justification of violence at the G20

Laura J. Ferris*, Helena R. M. Radke, Zoe C. Walter, Charlie R. Crimston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



During the 2014 Brisbane G20 meeting, new police powers enabled segregation of protesters into specific protest alliances and groups. This study used this unique context to quantitatively test the Elaborated Social Identity Model of crowd behaviour (ESIM) with protesters in vivo. We did this by examining how protesters' social identification (own protest group and protesters more broadly) predicted perceived police threat and moral justification of violence. 


Protesters completed survey measures of social identification, threat appraisals of police, and moral justification of violence. 


Mediation analyses revealed identification with superordinate group (protesters generally), but not own protest group, predicted justification of violence via threat appraisals. 


This study presents survey data from protesters at G20. The findings support ESIM and highlight that protesters may appraise police as threatening and consider violence morally justified, even in the context of a generally well regarded and effective community-based policing strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-321
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date25 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • collective action
  • crowd behaviour
  • G20
  • protest
  • social identity
  • threat appraisal


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