An Experimental Laboratory Examination of the Psychological and Physiological Effects of Civic Empowerment: A Novel Methodological Approach

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Civic engagement can be empowering and might promote well-being, especially for individuals from marginalized backgrounds. This study uses a novel experimental approach to simulate civic engagement in a laboratory study and to test whether this approach engenders civic empowerment and buffers psychological and physiological reactivity to stress and social rejection. Young adults, primarily experiencing low socioeconomic status (N = 128), were randomly assigned to deliver a speech about a civic or a neutral issue. Giving a civic speech leads to higher feelings of empowerment compared with giving a neutral speech. Delivering the civic speech buffers sympathetic nervous system reactivity to stress (measured through the pre-ejection period) and leads to higher identification with social class background. This is one of the first studies to use an experimental approach and psychophysiological methods to examine the effects of civic empowerment on civic, psychosocial, and physiological reactivity outcomes.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly |  

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