Skip to main content Accessibility help

Violence on Many Sides: Framing Effects on Protest and Support for Repression

  • Pearce Edwards (a1) and Daniel Arnon (a1)


The success of protests depends on whether they favorably affect public opinion: nonviolent resistance can win public support for a movement, but regimes counter by framing protest as violent and instigated by outsiders. The authors argue that public perceptions of whether a protest is violent shift based on the framing of the types of action and the identities of participants in those actions. The article distinguishes between three dimensions: (1) threat of harm, (2) bearing of arms and (3) identity of protesters. Using survey experiments in Israel and the United States, the study finds support for framing effects. Threat of harm has the largest positive effect on perceptions of violence and support for repression. Surprisingly, social out-groups are not perceived as more violent, but respondents favor repressing them anyway. Support for repressing a nonthreatening out-group is at least as large as support for repressing a threatening in-group. The findings link contentious action and public opinion, and demonstrate the susceptibility of this link to framing.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail:


Hide All
Abramowitz, AI and Webster, SW (2018) Negative partisanship: why Americans dislike parties but behave like rabid partisans. Political Psychology 39, 119135.
Aronow, PM and Miller, BT (2019) Foundations of Agnostic Statistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Aytac, SE, Schiumerini, L and Stokes, S (2017) Why do people join backlash protests? Lessons from Turkey. Journal of Conflict Resolution 62(6), 12051228.
Berinsky, A (2017) Rumors and health care reform: experiments in political misinformation. British Journal of Political Science 47(2), 241262.
Black, P (2012) June: Assad Calls Protesters Terrorists. Available from
Blakinger, K and Barned-Smith, St. J (2017) Hundreds of Protesters Face off in Houston Over Confederate Statue. Available from
Brewer, MB (1979) In-group bias in the minimal intergroup situation: a cognitive-motivational analysis. Psychological Bulletin 86(2), 307324.
Buhrmester, M, Kwang, T and Gosling, SD (2011) Amazon's Mechanical Turk: a new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality data. Perspectives on Psychological Science 6(1), 35.
Canetti, D et al. (2017) Exposure to violence, ethos of conflict, and support for compromise: surveys in Israel, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. Journal of Conflict Resolution 61(1), 84113.
Carney, DR et al. (2008) The secret lives of liberals and conservatives: personality profiles, interaction styles, and the things they leave behind. Political Psychology 29(6), 807840.
Chatman, CM and Von Hippel, W (2001) Attributional mediation of in-group bias. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 37(3), 267272.
Chenoweth, E and Lewis, OA (2013) Unpacking nonviolent campaigns: introducing the NAVCO 2.0 dataset. Journal of Peace Research 50(3), 415423.
Chenoweth, E and Stephan, M (2011) Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. New York: Columbia University Press.
Coppock, A (2019) Avoiding post-treatment bias in audit experiments. Journal of Experimental Political Science 6, 14.
Coppock, A, Leeper, TJ and Mullinix, KJ (2018) Generalizability of heterogeneous treatment effect estimates across samples. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(49), 12441–1446.
Dahlum, S (2019) Students in the streets: education and nonviolent protest. Comparative Political Studies 52(2), 277309.
D'Orazio, V and Salehyan, I (2018) Who is a terrorist? Ethnicity, group affiliation, and understandings of political violence. International Interactions 44(6), 10171039.
Druckman, JN (2001) On the limits of framing effects: who can frame? Journal of Politics 63(4), 10411066.
Druckman, JN (2004) Political preference formation: competition, deliberation, and the (ir)relevance of framing effects. American Political Science Review 98(4), 671686.
Earl, J, Soule, S and McCarthy, J (2003) Policing under fire. American Sociological Review 68, 581606.
Edwards, P, Arnon, D (2019) “Replication Data for: “Violence on Many Sides” Framing Effects on Protest and Support for Repression”,, Harvard Dataverse, V1
Eisinger, PK (1973) The conditions of protest behavior in American cities. American Political Science Review 67(1), 1128.
Enos, RD and Gidron, N (2018) Exclusion and cooperation in diverse societies: experimental evidence from Israel. American Political Science Review 112(4), 742757.
Feinberg, WE and Johnson, NR (1988) ‘Outside agitators’ and crowds: results from a computer simulation model. Social Forces 67(2), 398423.
Hesson, T, Morin, R and Restuccia, A (2018) ‘Consider it a Rifle’: Trump Says Migrants Throwing Rocks will be Treated as Armed. Available from
Hogan, W (2007) Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC's Dream for a New America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Huff, C and Kertzer, JD (2018) How the public defines terrorism. American Journal of Political Science 62(1), 5571.
Huff, C and Tingley, D (2015) Who are these people? Evaluating the demographic characteristics and political preferences of MTurk survey respondents. Research and Politics 2(3), 112.
Iyengar, S and Westwood, SJ (2015) Fear and loathing across party lines: new evidence on group polarization. American Journal of Political Science 59(3), 690707.
Kane, JV and Barabas, J (2019) No harm in checking: using factual manipulation checks to assess attentiveness in experiments. American Journal of Political Science 63(1), 234249.
Kertzer, JD and Zeitzoff, T (2017) A bottom-up theory of public opinion about foreign policy. American Journal of Political Science 61(3), 543558.
Lupu, Y and Wallace, GPR (2019) Violence, non-violence, and the effects of international human rights law. American Journal of Political Science 63(2), 411426.
Madestam, A et al. (2013) Do political protests matter? Evidence from the Tea Party movement. Quarterly Journal of Economics 128(4), 16331685.
Maoz, I and McCauley, C (2008) Threat, dehumanization, and support for retaliatory aggressive policies. Journal of Conflict Resolution 52(1), 93116.
Mazumder, S (2018) The persistent effect of U.S. civil rights protests on political attitudes. American Journal of Political Science 62(4), 922935.
McAdam, D and Su, Y (2002) The war at home: antiwar protests and congressional voting, 1965 to 1973. American Sociological Review 67(5), 696721.
McAdam, D, Tarrow, S and Tilly, C (2001) Dynamics of Contention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Merica, D (2017) Trump Condemns ‘Hatred, Bigotry and Violence on Many Sides’ in Charlottesville. Available from
Meyer, J et al. (2019) FBI, Homeland Security Warn of More ‘Antifa’ Attacks. Available from
News, M (2018) The News – Wave of Terror Strikes West Bank in Single Week. Available from
Pearlman, W (2018) Moral identity and protest cascades in Syria. British Journal of Political Science 48(4), 877901.
Peffley, M, Hutchison, ML and Shamir, M (2015) The impact of persistent terrorism on political tolerance: Israel 1980 to 2011. American Political Science Review 109(4), 817832.
Phillips, BJ (2017) Deadlier in the US? On lone wolves, terrorist groups, and attack lethality. Terrorism and Political Violence 29(3), 533549.
Piazza, JA (2015) Terrorist suspect religious identity and public support for harsh interrogation and detention practices. Political Psychology 36(6), 667690.
Pion-Berlin, D (1988) The national security doctrine, military threat perception, and the ‘dirty war’ in Argentina. Comparative Political Studies 21(3), 382407.
Pressman, J (2017) Throwing stones in social science: non-violence, unarmed violence, and the first intifada. Cooperation and Conflict 6(4), 519536.
Shadwick, L (2017) VIDEO: ‘Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, These Racist Statues Have to Go!’. Available from
Spaaij, R (2010) The enigma of lone wolf terrorism: an assessment. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 33(9), 854870.
Stephan, MJ and Chenoweth, E (2008) Why civil resistance works: the strategic logic of nonviolent conflict. International Security 33(1), 744.
Tilly, C (2008) Contentious Performances. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wallace, GPR (2014) Martial law? Military experience, international law and support for torture. International Studies Quarterly 58, 501514.
Wasow, O (2017) Do Protests Matter? Evidence from the 1960s Black Insurgency. Working Paper. http://www:omarwasow:com/ProtestsonVoting:pdf.
Young, LE (2019) The psychology of state repression: fear and dissent decisions in Zimbabwe. American Political Science Review 113(1), 140155.
Zeira, Y (2018) From the schools to the streets: education and anti-regime resistance in the West Bank. Comparative Political Studies 52(8), 11311168.
Zeitzoff, T (2018) Anger, legacies of violence, and group conflict: an experiment in post-riot Acre, Israel. Conflict Management and Peace Science 35(4), 402423.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Edwards and Arnon Dataset

Supplementary materials

Edwards and Arnon supplementary material
Online Appendix

 PDF (444 KB)
444 KB

Violence on Many Sides: Framing Effects on Protest and Support for Repression

  • Pearce Edwards (a1) and Daniel Arnon (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed