This thesis uses the Occupy Wall Street movement as a case study to analyze how individuals decide to take part in social movements. Moving away from rational utility models, it applies a emotion-based model of decision-making that better explains collective action participation. Interviews with individual activists provided information about their incentives, which were then compared with results from the social psychology research on behavior in group contexts. The results mirrored this literature, and showed that when deciding to act, individuals calculate a broad range of incentives, many of which are entirely non-material. As they come to identify with a movement, these incentives are consciously and subconsciously altered to favor participation. Simultaneously, collective identification comes to guide decisions to participate. Recognition of the specific incentives relevant in social movement contexts should facilitate understanding of movement dynamics for academics and movement organizers alike.
Includes bibliographical references.