System Justification, Group Identification and Political Behavior: Protests in Khabarovsk Krai



Objective. The aim of the present research is to investigate the relationship between justification of the social system and group identification, on the one hand, and the readiness for non-institutionalized political behavior, on the other. Background. There are two psychological approaches to the study of the factors of non-institutionalized political behavior: the first one is based on social identity theory, and the second one — on system justification theory. In most cases, research uses either one or the other approach. In this study, we will examine how these approaches are related to each other. Study design. We hypothesized that group identification and system justification are linked to the readiness for non-institutionalized political action, but this relationship is mediated by perceived injustice and collective political efficacy. These hypotheses were tested in a study conducted during the protests in Khabarovsk Krai in the summer and autumn of 2020. The study was conducted with a survey method. To test the hypotheses mediation analysis was used. Participants. 432 people living in Khabarovsk Krai: 53% of men and 47% of women; the age ranged from 18 to 63 years (MToloka=28.89, SDnetworks=9.48; MToloka=36.71, SDnetworks=11.47). Measurements. The respondents filled out questionnaires measuring justification of the system existing in contemporary Russia, identification with the residents of Khabarovsk Krai, perceived injustice of the arrest of Governor Sergei Furgal, collective efficacy of the residents of this region, and the readiness to take actions aimed at changing the current situation. Results. The results showed that system justification was negatively, and Khabarovsk identification was positively associated with the perceived injustice of the governor’s arrest and the collective efficacy of Khabarovsk residents. Perceived injustice and collective efficacy, in turn, were positively associated with the readiness to engage in all forms of non-institutionalized political behavior aimed at changing the current situation. At the same time, perceived injustice and collective efficacy mediated the links between system justification and Khabarovsk identification with the readiness to act. Conclusions. The social identity approach and the system justification approach independently explain people’s readiness to engage in non-institutionalized political behavior aimed at changing the status quo. In particular, group identification and system justification act in the opposite ways: the former strengthens political activity, while the latter weakens it.

General Information

Keywords: non-institutionalized political behavior, system justification, group identification, perceived injustice, collective efficacy

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. This research is supported by the Faculty of Social Sciences, National Research University Higher School of Economics

For citation: Gulevich O.A., Guseva V.V. System Justification, Group Identification and Political Behavior: Protests in Khabarovsk Krai . Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2021. Vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 9–22. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2021120302. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Olga A. Gulevich, Doctor of Psychology, Laboratory Head, Politics & Psychology Research Laboratory, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Victoria V. Guseva, intern researcher, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University), Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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