Humans are motivated to maintain a sense of control. Throughout their lives, people face various important situations they cannot control. They walk the road of life unwaveringly until something makes them stumble or sink into soggy ground, pulling the rug from under their feet. When their sense of general control is shaken, they might feel as if the ground had vanished, while at the same time, they will try to regain a foothold on firm ground. Economic crises and instable conditions of employment, severe diseases of loved ones, and sudden breakups of important relationships represent examples of ground-shaking experiences that can diminish confidence in control over one’s own life. Even just anticipating such events is sufficient to threaten perceived control, leading to the fundamental feeling that one can no longer master any situation or event. To alleviate the negative impact of low personal control and to reestablish a sense of personal influence, people can use different strategies to get out of the quicksand of control loss and to get back on firm ground again. Apart from merely idiosyncratic personal strategies, like putting more effort into personal professional goals after an uncontrollable partnership breakup, people can also use social strategies, like defending their own national values or supporting a collective movement, that involve the social environment to regain
perceived control. In this chapter, we focus exclusively on social reactions to control threat that people use to maintain or restore a sense of control, specifically when personal control seems futile.