Stephanie Dornschneider

Stephanie Dornschneider (2021), Hot contention, cool abstention. Positive emotions and protest behavior during the Arab Spring. Oxford University Press, Series in Political Psychology. [publisher] [data]

Summaries: The Washington Post/ Monkey Cage | POMEPS Podcast

Why did people mobilize for the Arab Spring? While existing research has focused on the roles of authoritarian regimes, oppositional structures, and social grievances in the movement, these explanations fail to address differences in the behavior of individuals, overlooking the fact that even when millions mobilized for the Arab Spring, the majority of the population stayed at home. To investigate this puzzle, this book traces the reasoning processes by which individuals decided to join the uprisings, or to refrain from doing so. Drawing from original ethnographic interviews with protestors and non-protestors in Egypt and Morocco, Dornschneider utilizes qualitative methods and computational modeling to identify the main components of reasoning processes: Beliefs, inferences (directed connections between beliefs), and decisions.

Bridging the psychology literature on reasoning and the political science literature on protest, this book systematically traces how decisions about participating in the Arab Spring were made. It shows that decisions to join the uprisings were “hot”, meaning they were based on positive emotions, while decisions to stay at home were “cool”, meaning they were based on safety considerations. Hot Contention, Cool Abstention adds to the extensive literature on political uprisings, offering insights on how and why movements start, stall, and evolve.

Stephanie Dornschneider (2016), Whether to kill. The cognitive maps of violent and nonviolent individuals. University of Pennsylvania Press. [publisher] [data]

Reviews: Terrorism and Political Violence | Criminal Justice Review | International Studies Review | Political Studies Review

What drives some to violence against the state while others, living in the same place at the same time, turn to nonviolent resistance? And in this age of Islamist terrorism and Islamophobia, does the practice of Islam encourage violence? Structural explanations of violence fail to answer these questions. In Whether to Kill, Stephanie Dornschneider applies the methodology of cognitive mapping to study the beliefs that motivate individuals to take up arms or engage in nonviolent activism. Using a double-paired comparison with control groups, Dornschneider conducted extensive ethnographic interviews with violent and nonviolent Muslims and non-Muslims in both Egypt and Germany, speaking with them about their lives and contexts and what drove them to resist the state. After coding their responses into cognitive maps, which make visible the connections between an individual's beliefs and decisions for behavior, Dornschneider used a computer model to analyze the huge number of possible factors driving people to choose or not choose violence, eventually identifying ten reasoning processes by which violent individuals can be differentiated from nonviolent ones.

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