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Collective Autonomy: Why Groups Fight for Power and Status, Social and Personality Psychology Compass


People experience “collective autonomy restriction” when they believe other groups want to restrict their own group from freely expressing its social identity and determining its behavior. We review emerging research on the negative consequences of collective autonomy restriction for well-being, as well as its implications for group members' motivation to fight for their place within social hierarchies. We propose that group members desire two resources tied to having a favorable position within the social hierarchy—structural power (i.e., the ability to influence and resist influence from other groups) and status (being positively valued and perceived as moral by others)—because they believe that having power and status are necessary to secure their group's collective autonomy. We hypothesize that group members anticipate that other groups might restrict their group if they lack the structural power to resist outside influences, or if they are perceived as negative or immoral and worthy of restriction. We apply this power and status perspective of collective autonomy restriction to predict (1) when disempowered groups are most likely to fight against (vs. tolerate) their disadvantaged position and (2) when powerful groups are most likely to relinquish power and acknowledge their transgressions (vs. defensively maintain their privileged position).




Frank Kachanoff, Kurt Gray, Richard Koestner, Nour Kteily, Michael Wohl

Date Published



Kachanoff, Frank, Kurt Gray, Richard Koestner, Nour Kteily, and Michael Wohl. 2021. Collective Autonomy: Why Groups Fight for Power and Status. Social and Personality Psychology Compass.


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