Giving versus acting

Emma F. Thomas, Craig McGarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


There are a variety of ways that people can respond to inequality. This article considers the distinction between collective giving and collective acting, but also adopts a focus on the people who engage in those behaviours. Benevolent supporters engage in efforts to alleviate suffering through the transfer of money or provision of goods (‘giving’), while activist supporters engage in actions that aim to challenging an underlying injustice or exploitation (‘acting’). Using samples obtained through anti-poverty non-governmental organizations (N = 2,340), latent profile analysis suggested two qualitatively different forms of support for global poverty reduction: a benevolent supporter profile (defined by moderate levels of charitable support) and an activist supporter profile (defined by engagement in a suite of socio-political actions). The two forms of support are predicted by different appraisals for, emotional reactions to (outrage v sympathy), and social change beliefs about, global injustice. Results highlight the theoretical and practical importance of considering subgroup differences in how social justice is pursued.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-209
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • social change
  • Collective action
  • charity
  • social identity
  • beliefs
  • humanitarian justice
  • global poverty reduction
  • generosity

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