Document Type

Journal Article


People can become outraged by what they perceive as injustice, like torture or aggressive war, and sometimes this stimulates social action. Perpetrators of such actions regularly use a number of methods, such as cover-up and reinterpretation, to minimise outrage. The struggle between powerful perpetrators and challengers over reactions to occurrences potentially perceived as unfair can be called the dynamics of outrage. Psychology is a crucial factor in such struggles, but there has been no study of psychological perspectives relevant to outrage dynamics. We survey several psychological theories - Freudian psychoanalysis, just world theory, Bandura's theory of moral disengagement, reactance theory, balance theory and studies of persuasion - that seem relevant to outrage dynamics. These theories, among others, offer insights about why and when people become outraged and about the tactics of devaluation, reinterpretation and use of official channels used by perpetrators to minimise outrage. Insights about the psychology of outrage dynamics can assist activists opposing injustice.