Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Toby Bolsen

Second Advisor

Ryan Carlin

Third Advisor

Sarah Allen Gershon


Political scientists have largely overlooked the issue of effort. It is a seemingly simple concept with great implications for the study of political behavior. With intuition alone we can often classify behaviors as more or less effortful. And many of the behaviors that interest political scientists concern this fundamental concept, but, somehow, we have failed to formally incorporate effort into our theories. Indeed, normatively speaking, citizens will engage the democratic process effortfully, not effortlessly. But what makes a behavior more or less effortful? How does the amount of effort expended in pursuit of a behavior affect the likelihood of actualizing that behavior? To answer these questions I have developed a resource model of political cognition which posits that effortful behaviors are essentially fueled by a limited, but renewable, supply of cognitive resources. In this dissertation I report the results of a series of experiments in which I apply the resource model to collective action behaviors as well as information processing. The results suggest that these behaviors, and mostly likely others as well, are, to a significant degree, dependent upon the sufficient availability of cognitive resources.