The Anti-Social Triad of Grievance Politics: An Integrated Model of Reactionism, Ressentiment, and Collective Narcissism

Tereza Capelos, Mikko Salmela, Gavin B. Sullivan, Stavroula Chrona

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In this article, we undertake a comprehensive examination of reactionism, ressentiment, and collective narcissism, collectively termed as the “ anti-social triad of grievance politics.” Although these constructs are conceptually distinct, they are psycholoically intricately linked. Reactionism denotes a backward-facing political orientation, ressentiment signifies a chronic and embittered emotional mechanism, and collective narcissism reflects a precarious and wounded psychological state. Together, they constitute a potent blend of anti-social sentiments within grievance politics, yet their interconnectedness is overlooked when they are studied in isolation. Our study pioneers in establishing original connections between reactionism, ressentiment, and collective narcissism, providing empirical evidence of their coexistence and interactions. We introduce a novel scale to measure reactionism and explore its associations with existing measures of ressentiment and collective narcissism, as well as their associations with values, authoritarianism, and populism. By elucidating the tight interplay among these phenomena, we offer valuable insights into their implications for responses to social change and the essence of democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (


The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The work of Capelos, Salmela, and Sullivan was partially co-funded by the European Union (Horizon Europe, PLEDGE: POLITICS OF GRIEVANCE AND DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE, project number 101132560), and the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK’s government Horizon Europe Funding Guarantee (project number 10108342). Salmela’s work was also supported by funding by the European Research Council under the European Union's Horizon 2020 program (Grant Agreement no. 832940).


  • reactionism
  • ressentiment
  • collective narcissism
  • values
  • emotions
  • grievances


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