What Predicts Threat Perceptions Toward People Opposing to the Government? A Population-Based Study Following Umbrella Movement, Hong Kong


  • Wai Kai Hou
  • Daphna Canetti
  • Tsz Wah Ma
  • Brian J. Hall
  • Kam Man Lau
  • Sin Man Ng
  • Stevan E. Hobfoll


We examined the incidence and predictors of threat perceptions toward people who oppose government action (i.e., protestors) following the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong (September 28th to December 15th, 2014). A population-representative sample of 1,208 citizens (mean age = 46.89 years; 52.4% female) was recruited two months after the conclusion of the Movement using random digit dialing. Upon giving their informed consent, respondents reported sociodemographics, perceived threats of protestors to the prospects of democracy, ways of life, and the economy, anxiety symptoms (STAI), and depressive symptoms (PHQ-9). More than half disagreed that protestors threatened the prospects of democracy (54.7%, 95% CI = .52, .57), ways of life (52.2%, 95% CI = .49, .55), and the economy (51.4%, 95% CI = .49, .54). Regression analyses revealed that male sex was associated with lower odds of perceiving threats to the prospects of democracy and ways of life. Being unmarried was associated with lower odds of perceiving threats to the economy. Secondary education level and depressive symptoms were associated with higher odds of perceiving threats to ways of life and the economy, respectively. This is one of the first population-based studies that measured socioeconomic and mental health correlates of political attitudes immediately following pro-democracy movements.