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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Nilanjana Dagupta

Second Advisor

Evelyn Mercado

Subject Categories

American Politics | Comparative Politics | School Psychology | Social Psychology | Theory and Philosophy


Collective autonomy refers to a group’s freedom to define and practice their own cultural and social identity without interference from other groups. According to the “threat and defense” hypothesis of collective autonomy restriction, group members are motivated to defend their collective autonomy from outside restriction. However, the psychological processes that influence advantaged vs. disadvantaged group members perceptions of collective autonomy, as well as the specific strategies they use to protect collective autonomy, have yet to be articulated. This dissertation presents three manuscripts that examine the social conditions and psychological processes that shape advantaged and disadvantaged group members’ perceptions of collective autonomy. The first manuscript (Chapter 2) is a theoretical review that articulates hypotheses about the social conditions (i.e., stability vs. instability of a social hierarchy and its perceived legitimacy) and psychological process (i.e., social identity strength, system beliefs, social comparisons, and intergroup threat) that shape advantaged and disadvantaged group members’ perceptions of collective autonomy restriction and drive collective action. The second manuscript (Chapter 3) empirically tests whether social instability and hierarchy threat increases feelings of collective autonomy restriction among politically advantaged group members. Finally, the third manuscript (Chapter 4), empirically tests the external validity of the collective autonomy restriction literature by testing whether experiencing racial/ethnic collective autonomy shapes adolescents’ perceptions of their teachers as supportive of their intrinsic motivational needs within the classroom context. A summary of each manuscript, as well as their theoretical and practical implications for future research are discussed (Chapter 5).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.