Social Dominance or System Justification? - The Acceptance of Inequality and Resistance to Social Change as Unique System-Relevant Motivations

17 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2012

Date Written: October 23, 2012

Abstract

System Justification (SJT; Jost & Banaji, 1994) and Social Dominance theories (SDT; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) both attempt to explain the legitimacy of unequal social systems and have often been conflated in the literature. We posit that both theories have uniquely highlighted two theoretically-orthogonal motivations to legitimize the social system: the resistance to social change (SJT) and the acceptance of inequality (SDT). This possibility was tested in two studies using representative data from 27 (Study 1) and 30 (Study 2) European countries. A measure of the acceptance of inequality was positively associated with legitimacy in unequal societies and negatively associated in equal societies. A measure of the resistance to social change was positively associated with legitimacy and was not moderated by societal inequality. The discussion focuses on the potential for these results to help integrate SJT and SDT under a broader theoretical umbrella and directions for future research.

Keywords: legitimacy, system justification theory, social dominance theory, inequality, status quo, political psychology

Suggested Citation

Brandt, Mark and Reyna, Christine, Social Dominance or System Justification? - The Acceptance of Inequality and Resistance to Social Change as Unique System-Relevant Motivations (October 23, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2165690 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2165690

Mark Brandt (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

Christine Reyna

DePaul University ( email )

1 East Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

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