Collection: The Social Psychology of the Yellow Vests Movement

Research article

The Yellow Vests in France: Psychosocial Determinants and Consequences of the Adherence to a Social Movement in a Representative Sample of the Population



The aim of this research is to identify what social and psychological variables may attract people to a social protest movement, namely the Yellow Vests (YVs) in France, which originated in October 2018. This analysis, albeit correlational, may nevertheless give important hints to identify in an exploratory way what causal factors could lead people (a) to become a sympathizer of the movement and (b) to become a member of that movement, and what psychosocial consequences would derive from (a) and (b). Notably, the role of conspiracy beliefs and anomie will be scrutinized because of their role in fostering non-normative political violence. In this purpose, we analyzed the results of a poll conducted on a representative sample of the French population (N = 1760). This survey explored a range of respondents’ attitudes towards social issues and towards the YVs movement. Our analyses showed that adherence to the YVs movement is mainly caused by socio-economic factors (such as educational level, economic capital) and belonging to political extremes (far left and even more far right), relying on and probably increasing distrust toward authorities and unconventional beliefs (paranormal and conspiracist). Ultimately, adherence to the movement seems triggered by the objective factor of dependency on a car and endorsement of conspiracist beliefs; whereas, simple sympathy is related to a less irrational form of accusation of authorities, low subjective economic capital, and pessimism toward the future. YVs also more often use social media and Youtube, but less often use media websites and newspapers as their first source of information.


Yellow Vests movementConspiracist ideationConspiracy theoriesAnomieSocial protest movement
  • Year: 2022
  • Volume: 35 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 2
  • DOI: 10.5334/irsp.556
  • Submitted on 24 Dec 2020
  • Accepted on 29 Oct 2021
  • Published on 15 Feb 2022
  • Peer Reviewed