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Abstract

The belief that status in society is based on merit is a central feature of the American Dream. This belief system justifies status inequalities by locating the cause of status differences in the individual talents and efforts of group members. We hypothesized that activating meritocratic beliefs increases the extent to which individuals psychologically justify status inequalities, even when those inequalities are disadvantageous to the self. Specifically, we hypothesized that priming meritocracy prompts individuals to engage in system-justifying psychological responses when they experience threat either at the personal or group level. Across two studies, priming meritocracy led members of a low status group to justify both personal and group disadvantage by decreasing perceptions of discrimination (Studies 1 and 2) and increasing the extent to which they stereotyped themselves and their group in status-justifying ways (Study 2).

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... Se ha argumentado que una sociedad basada en los principios meritocráticos, suscita que individuos de mayor estatus se conciban como merecedores de su posición en la estructura social (McCoy y Major, 2007). De esta manera, se configuran una serie de creencias que legitiman las diferencias sociales y que convierten a la desigualdad en una condición moralmente aceptable; paradójicamente, incluso por aquellos grupos que se encuentran en condiciones de mayor desventaja económica (Trump, 2017). ...
... Siguiendo a Castillo et al. (2018), no existe consenso en la literatura sobre cómo medir la percepción y preferencia en la meritocracia, encontrando el uso indiferenciado de conceptos como Meritocratic Beliefs (Kunovich y Slomczynski, 2007;McCoy y Major, 2007;Ellis, 2017), Meritocratic Ideals, (Reynolds y Xian, 2014) o Percieved Meritocracy (Xian y Reynolds, 2017). La falta de claridad conceptual y diferencias en la medición de meritocracia genera dificultades en el abordaje empírico del concepto. ...
... La percepción de justicia tiene repercusiones en cómo se justifica un determinado logro de estatus, en este sentido, la meritocracia como principio distributivo permite justificar determinadas diferencias entre los individuos (Davey et al., 1999;Day y Fiske, 2017). Si se perciben condiciones equitativas en términos de las oportunidades, expresadas por la posibilidad de adquirir un estatus más alto, la meritocracia es saliente como mecanismo explicativo en la justificación y conformidad respecto de determinados niveles de desigualdad social (McCoy y Major, 2007). ...
Thesis
La meritocracia constituye uno de los ideales más representativos de las sociedades modernas de occidente. El mérito, entendido como la combinación de esfuerzos y talentos individuales, constituye el fundamento de una sociedad basada en los principios meritocráticos. La legitimidad de desigualdad social posee un fuerte arraigo en la meritocracia, de modo tal que individuos que se sitúan en estratos más altos de la jerarquía social se conciben a sí mismos como merecedores de su posición. En este sentido ¿son las personas con mayores ingresos, más educadas y con ocupaciones de mayor cualificación, las que perciben más meritocracia? Así también ¿la percepción de sí mismos en la jerarquía social afecta cómo los individuos perciben el funcionamiento de la meritocracia? Esta tesis analizó la relación de características objetivas y subjetivas de estatus social con la percepción de meritocracia en Chile, con el objetivo de determinar en qué medida la experiencia objetiva y las percepciones en torno al estatus social propio, de la familia de origen y de los hijos en el futuro, se relacionan con la percepción de meritocracia. Utilizando datos del Estudio Longitudinal Social de Chile (n=2983), se realizó un Análisis Factorial Confirmatorio que evidenció dos dimensiones a través de las cuales puede ser medida la percepción de meritocracia. La primera dimensión guarda relación con la importancia de la ambición, el educarse y el trabajo duro para surgir en la vida. La segunda dimensión se relaciona el grado de acuerdo respecto a si en Chile a las personas son recompensadas por sus esfuerzos y talento. Los resultados de los modelos de ecuaciones estructurales evidenciaron que individuos más educados atribuyen más importancia a los factores individuales para salir adelante, pero a su vez sostienen una visión crítica respecto de las recompensas provenientes del esfuerzo y el talento, mientras que los ingresos y la ocupación no parecen ser relevantes. Respecto de la percepción de estatus social, el estatus propio pierde relevancia al controlar por las medidas de estatus objetivas y subjetivas de estatus, siendo el estatus de los hijos el más relevante, donde individuos con mayores expectativas de logro de estatus para sus hijos, son quienes atribuyen más importancia al mérito individual, y al mismo tiempo, poseen una percepción crítica de las recompensas. Se concluye que las apreciaciones sobre el estatus social en relación al pasado y al futuro, como también el logro educacional, son altamente relevantes en explicar las percepciones sobre la meritocracia en Chile.
... Meritocracy belief is the conviction that the economic system rewards individual ability, achievement and persistence (Kluegel & Smith, 1986), and the individual's effort is an important factor for economic mobility (Hadler, 2005). If economic inequalities are based on merit, then some people have higher economic status because they are meritorious -they are more talented and hardworking compared to those who have less (McCoy & Major, 2007). Such wealth inequalities are perceived to be fair because they are meritocratically deserved. ...
... Related to the previous point, a further limitation is that several individual factors identified in other studies (e.g., Larsen, 2016;McCoy & Major, 2007;Mitchell et al., 2003;Roex et al., 2019) to be related to intolerance towards inequality were not controlled for or included as covariates. Including such variables in the analysis might also have an effect on the effect size estimates in both studies. ...
... La creencia meritocrática es la convicción de que el sistema económico recompensa la habilidad, el logro y la persistencia individuales (Kluegel & Smith, 1986) y que el esfuerzo individua es un factor importante para la movilidad económica (Hadler, 2005). Si las desigualdades económicas se basan en el mérito, entonces algunas personas tendrán un nivel económico más alto que otras porque se lo habrán merecido; tendrán más talento o habrán trabajado más que otras que tienen un nivel económico más bajo (McCoy & Major, 2007). Estas desigualdades económicas se perciben como justas porque se obtienen meritocráticamente. ...
Article
As people’s concerns about wealth inequality have not grown even as warnings are raised about its negative impact on societies and individuals, research has inquired into factors that influence people’s tolerance towards wealth inequalities. Previous research has shown that higher social position and meritocracy beliefs tend to reduce concern for wealth inequality. Two studies seek to replicate these findings in the Philippines, a country which reports high levels of tolerance for inequality but which does not fit models that explain country differences in tolerance for inequality. In Study 1, survey data showed meritocracy beliefs were negatively related to intolerance towards wealth inequality; this relationship was found only among higher subjective social class Filipinos. In Study 2, an experiment found that priming meritocracy reduced intolerance towards wealth inequality in a sample of higher social class Filipino. Results provide country-specific evidence on the inequality-legitimizing effects of meritocracy on higher subjective social class Filipinos’ attitudes towards wealth inequality.
... En effet, puisqu'il n'appartient qu'aux élèves (perçus comme étant sur ce même pied d'égalité) de réussir, il est alors envisageable de sélectionner les élèves afin de les orienter vers les différentes positions sociales existant dans la société, créant ainsi une hiérarchie et une sélection scolaire juste, basée sur le mérite de chacun (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1964Dornbusch, Glasgow & Lin, 1996). Cette fonction de sélection repose sur un principe d'équité prédominant dans le système scolaire qui promulgue en soi un message insistant sur l'importance, pour chaque élève, de travailler dur afin de réussir (Katz & Hass, 1988 ;McCoy & Major, 2007). ...
... Si la norme de jugement de l'effort scolaire avait déjà été mise en avant précédemment dans la littérature (Matteucci, 2007(Matteucci, , 2008 particulières (Althusser, 1970 ;Durkheim, 1922Durkheim, , 1938Matteucci, 2008). savoir, l'idéologie méritocratique (Althusser, 1970 ;Durkheim, 1922Durkheim, , 1938Katz & Hass, 1988 ;Matteucci, 2008 ;McCoy & Major, 2007). Effectivement, on peut se demander si l'effort Pansu & Gilibert, 2002 ;Pansu, 2006), et serait une norme de jugement importante (Matteucci, 2007 ;Matteucci & al., 2008), nos études précédentes ont permis de voir qu'il s'agit également d'une norme de comportement attendue en milieu scolaire. ...
... En effet, l'étude 2 nous amène à conclure que l'effort en tant que comportement explicatif de la réussite serait ancrée à la fois dans la dimension de l'utilité sociale mais également dans la dimension de la désirabilité sociale, tandis que l'étude 3 nous amène à conclure que l'effort en tant que comportement prédictif de la réussite serait uniquement ancré dans la dimension de la désirabilité sociale et n'aurait aucun poids dans la dimension de l'utilité sociale. En s'intéressant plus particulièrement à l'idéologie méritocratique, qui est une idéologie très répandue en milieu scolaire, nous avons conclu qu'il s'agissait d'une croyance qui pouvait effectivement impacter les évaluations des enseignants à l'égard de leurs élèves (Althusser, 1970 ;Durkheim, 1922Durkheim, , 1938Katz & Hass, 1988 ;Matteucci, 2008 ;McCoy & Major, 2007). Quand on parle de valeur en psychologie sociale, on fait référence à une construction sociale qui représente un « idéal abstrait de conduite » transcendant les situations, les objets, ou les personnes, mais qui concerne plutôt l'adoption de conduites visant à atteindre une finalité que l'on juge comme étant idéale (Rokeach, 1972). ...
Thesis
La plupart des discours scolaires insistent davantage sur l’importance de faire des efforts par rapport au fait d’être compétent pour réussir. Nous nous sommes intéressés à la façon dont les enseignants évaluent l’effort et la compétence en milieu scolaire, afin de voir si l’effort permet de réussir. Pour cela, nous nous sommes ancrés dans le modèle de jugement de l’utilité (réussite scolaire) et de la désirabilité sociale (appréciation scolaire), en étudiant l’effort en tant que norme et comportement scolaire. Selon nos hypothèses, l’effort, contrairement à la compétence, aurait une faible valeur d’utilité sociale, tandis qu’il aurait une forte valeur de désirabilité sociale. De plus, l’adhésion à l’idéologie méritocratique modèrerait ces jugements. Nos résultats ont montré que l’effort a une forte valeur en termes de désirabilité sociale, et une valeur assez instable en termes d’utilité sociale, contrairement à la compétence. Par ailleurs, nos résultats ont montré que pour les personnes adhérant à l’idéologie méritocratique, l’effort ne serait pas un moyen de réussir, mais permettrait d’acquérir des compétences pour réussir.
... Participants were randomly assigned to read an article that discussed either the discrimination that gay men face (experimental condition) or bias against a group to which they do not belong (control condition). In psychology, making discrimination toward one's group salient is a way to experimentally examine how discrimination affects an individual's perceptions and wellbeing (McCoy and Major, 2007;Wilkins et al., 2015). After reading the article assigned and answering questions about print media, all participants completed a second survey to capture their FRT (dependent variable) and their Anticipated Stigma (predictor) as well as to acquire demographic information. ...
... Participants in the experimental condition were reminded of the discrimination their group experiences, whereas in the control condition, they were not. This manipulation was developed for the current study and is adapted from McCoy and Major (2007) and Wilkins et al. (2015). The participants in the experimental condition read an article about bias toward the LGBTQ community in the US. ...
... Canadian Inuit were chosen because they are a group who experienced discrimination but were unlikely to be personally relevant to US participants (e.g., it is unlikely that the participants in our survey are members of the Canadian Inuit group). Reading about discrimination toward a group that is not self-relevant is used broadly in this type of research to ensure that any effects are not due to simply reading about discrimination but rather due to reading about discrimination toward one's own group (e.g., McCoy and Major, 2007;Wilkins et al., 2018). The article discussed how the Canadian Inuit population has made progress toward equality but that bias against them remains pervasive. ...
Article
This study evaluates whether the salience of discrimination and perceived stigmatization influence gay men’s financial risk tolerance (FRT). This evaluation is conducted using the FRT measure of Grable and Lytton (1999), a “two-study ruse” approach and a hierarchical linear regression model. The findings show that individuals with anticipated stigmatization, after being exposed to information about bias against their community, exhibited greater FRT. These results support the hypothesis that risk-taking behavior by members of stigmatized populations increases when they experience discrimination.
... Numerous studies conducted in the past two decades have documented that endorsement of meritocratic beliefs is linked to greater justification of inequality (Davidai & Gilovich, 2018;Jost & Hunyady, 2003;Major & Kaiser, 2017;McCoy & Major, 2007;McCoy et al., 2013;Wiederkehr et al., 2015;c.f. Son Hing et al., 2011). ...
... Participants also indicated how much they believed this social inequality was acceptable on a 4-point Likert scale (1 = Unacceptable, 4 = Acceptable). Prior studies have indicated that shifting attributions for poverty to external causes reduced support for inequality (Piff et al., 2020) whereas priming merit beliefs increased justifying the status quo (McCoy & Major, 2007). Thus, we expect merit (opportunity and chance) beliefs to negatively (positively) relate to perception of inequality and positively (negatively) relate to acceptance of inequality. ...
Article
That individuals attain socioeconomic status (SES) through their own effort and ability, which is a staple pillar of the meritocratic ethos and has been a popular topic of inquiry within social psychology. However, this focus on merit overshadowed other important causal factors that contribute to one’s SES, such as opportunity and chance. This study presents psychometrically validated scales measuring one’s causal beliefs of SES attainment for themselves (agency beliefs) and others (society beliefs). Utilizing a nationally representative sample, participants completed 68 items of causal agency and society beliefs for low and high SES attainment. Through factor analyses, item response theory, and careful item reduction, three subscales and six dimensions measuring (1) merit (effort and ability), (2) opportunity (social connections and privilege), and (3) chance (luck and fate) are introduced for each belief system. Correlation analyses reveal general support for construct validity. Implications and future directions are discussed.
... Estos procedimientos de justificación tienen como efecto que los grupos socialmente favorecidos racionalicen su propia posición de ventaja, al mismo tiempo que los grupos socialmente desfavorecidos internalicen la desigualdad de su posición, aceptando la culpa o la responsabilidad de esta desventaja (Jost y Hunyady, 2003). Dicha tendencia se vincula con las creencias sobre la meritocracia y el origen de la desigualdad social (McCoy y Major, 2007). Más precisamente, la creencia sobre el esfuerzo individual y la meritocracia aumenta la tendencia a la justificación del sistema y las desigualdades sociales (McCoy y Major, 2007). ...
... Dicha tendencia se vincula con las creencias sobre la meritocracia y el origen de la desigualdad social (McCoy y Major, 2007). Más precisamente, la creencia sobre el esfuerzo individual y la meritocracia aumenta la tendencia a la justificación del sistema y las desigualdades sociales (McCoy y Major, 2007). Este principio, que en palabras de Souroujon (2021) busca y permite legitimar el sistema, particularmente, las desigualdades, de forma consensuada e inobjetable. ...
... The original formulation of system justification theory addressed the role of stereotypes in legitimizing social inequalities [25]. Since then, it has been broadened and focused on beliefs that legitimize existing arrangements, such as belief in meritocracy [34]. Thus, it admits that particularly inegalitarian or insidious systems can paradoxically increase the motivation to perceive existing social arrangements as fair and legitimate, even if these systems are painful, humiliating or unfair [25]. ...
... The motivation to legitimize the system leads women to perceive the inequalities and discrimination of which they are victims less [34]. According to some researches, women who strongly justify the gender system are less inclined to act collectively to challenge it and improve their own group's status [5,27,26]. ...
... The relationship between meritocracy belief and accepting the status quo can be observed among members of low-status groups too. Those with strong descriptive meritocracy belief tend to accept their own disadvantaged position, perceive it as fair and deserved, and engage in negative auto-stereotyping (McCoy and Major, 2007;Rüsch et al., 2010;Wiederkehr et al., 2015). Meritocracy belief is also related to personal views on macro-level income distribution. ...
Article
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In the current paper, we report the analysis of the relationship between meritocracy belief and subjective well-being using two large international databases, the European Social Survey Program (N = 44,387) and the European Values Study Program (N = 51,752), involving data gathered from 36 countries in total. We investigated whether low status individuals are more likely to psychologically benefit from endorsing meritocratic beliefs, and the same benefits are more pronounced in more unequal societies. Since meritocracy belief can function as a justification for income differences, we assumed that the harsher the objective reality is, the higher level of subjective well-being can be maintained by justifying this harsh reality. Therefore, we hypothesized that the palliative function of meritocracy belief is stronger for both low social status (low income) individuals, and for those living in an unequal social environment (in countries with larger income differences). Our multilevel models showed a positive relationship between meritocracy belief and subjective well-being, which relationship was moderated by both individual-level income status and country-level income differences in both studies. Based on these results, we concluded that the emotional payoff of justifying income inequalities is larger if one is more strongly affected by these inequalities.
... Research into descriptive beliefs has yielded important insights. Conducted primarily in the context of the U.S. and the "American Dream," this work elucidates how people's widespread belief in social mobility and the equity of the system (Davidai & Gilovich, 2018;Hochschild, 1981;Kluegel & Smith, 2017) justifies social inequality by casting it as the result of differences in merit rather than inequalities of opportunity (Madeira et al., 2019;Major & Kaiser, 2017;McCoy & Major, 2007;Shariff et al., 2016). Believing that one's current system is fair serves emotional functions as well-"palliating" the otherwise aversive realization that one's society is shot through with injustice (Goudarzi et al., 2020;Jost & Hunyady, 2003;Napier et al., 2020). ...
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Researchers across disciplines, including psychology, have sought to understand how people evaluate the fairness of resource distributions. Equity, defined as proportionality of rewards to merit, has dominated the conceptualization of distributive justice in psychology, with some scholars casting it as the primary basis on which distributive decisions are made. The present paper acts as a corrective to this disproportionate emphasis on equity. Drawing on findings from different subfields, we argue that people possess a range of beliefs about how valued resources should be allocated—beliefs that vary systematically across developmental stages, relationship types, and societies. By reinvigorating notions of distributive justice put forth by the field’s pioneers, we further argue that prescriptive beliefs concerning resource allocation are ideological formations embedded in socioeconomic and historical contexts. Fairness beliefs at the micro-level are thus shaped by those beliefs’ macro-level instantiations. In a novel investigation of this process, we consider neoliberalism, the globally-dominant socioeconomic model of the past forty years. Using data from more than 160 countries, we uncover evidence that neoliberal economic structures shape equity based distributive beliefs at the individual level. We conclude by advocating an integrative approach to the study of distributive justice that bridges microand macro-level analyses.
... Participants completed the 7-item scale on negative work-related stereotypes toward women developed by McCoy and Major (2007). Items on this scale assess both career aspirations (e.g., "On average, women enjoy supervising others less than men do") as well as items that deal with emotional stability, for example, "Women on average are more likely than men to become emotional when dealing with stress"). ...
Article
Full-text available
Women are harmed by stereotypes about their fit for positions of authority and changing these stereotypes is not a simple task. As stereotypes have strong epistemic properties, individuals with a high need for cognitive closure (NCC; i.e., the desire for epistemic certainty) can be more likely to accept these stereotypes and, consequently, to prefer men in positions of authority. Consistent with the reactive liberal hypothesis, this effect could be actually more visible among individuals with both a high NCC and left‐wing political orientations. We supported these hypotheses in a series of three studies. In Study 1 (N = 217), we found that manipulated NCC predicted preference for men in authority through stereotypes of women as not being fit for authority in a measurement‐of‐mediation design. In Study 2 (N = 151), we supported this effect in a mediation‐as‐process design. In Study 3 (N = 391), we found the indirect NCC effect on preference for men in authority was more visible among political liberals. A major implication of this work is that ways of changing the effect of these stereotypes should take into account the NCC, but particularly among individuals with left‐wing beliefs.
... 2 As with the system justifying beliefs that they are a manifestation of, meritocratic beliefs reduce anger at being discriminated against (Maitner, 2015) and reduce selfesteem whilst raising perceived fairness of treatment amongst low status-groups who suffer such discrimination McCoy and Major, 2007). Such beliefs are more readily associated with upward than downward mobility (Evans, 1997) and reflect actual levels of meritocracy in income distribution within society (Kunovich and Slomczynski, 2007 Olson, 1993). ...
Article
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This article addresses the largely overlooked question of whether explanations for inequality are related to appraisals of the political system. It posits a positive relationship between individual explanations for inequality and three indicators of appraisals of the political system: satisfaction with democracy, political trust, and external political efficacy. Individual explanations for inequality are a form of system justifying belief and constitute part of a wider ideological view of the status quo social order as just and defensible. This positive view of the functioning of society may flow over into appraisals of the political system, imply a positive disposition towards high-status groups including politicians, and remove the motivation to blame the political system for ongoing inequality (which is instead seen in a positive, meritocratic light). The relationships between explanations for inequality and appraisals of the political system are tested for the first time in the United States, using 2002 ANES data, and in Great Britain, using data from a survey fielded in 2014. The results in the United States show few consistent or significant relationships between explanations for inequality and any of the appraisals of the political system. However, the results in Great Britain show consistent, robust, and statistically significant positive relationships between individual explanations for inequality and external political efficacy. The inconsistency in these results may stem from the differing temporal and national contexts of the surveys. It is also likely that the ranking measures of explanations for inequality in the GB data distinguished respondents for whom individual explanations are particularly important, who have a less negative appraisal of external political efficacy. However, more work is required to investigate the effects of question format, the impact of national and temporal context, and the causal direction of the relationship between explanations for inequality and appraisals of the political system.
... Cependant, bien que primordiaux, les efforts ne peuvent pas constituer la seule et unique condition de la réussite scolaire. De plus, cette mise en valeur des efforts peut se confondre avec l'induction d'une idéologie méritocratique qui, nous le savons, peut accroître les écarts de performances entre population stigmatisée et population non stigmatisée et tout simplement accroitre les inégalités(Darnon, Smeding, & Redersdorff, 2018;McCoy & Major, 2007;Wiederkehr, Bonnot, Krauth-Gruber, & Darnon, 2015). Ainsi, tout comme l'essentialisme, une vision non-essentialiste de type incrémentielle n'est pas exempte de défautset de conséquences négatives. ...
Thesis
La plupart des recherches a montré que l’effet de la menace du stéréotype pouvait être renforcé par l'essentialisme psychologique, c’est-à-dire par la croyance selon laquelle les caractéristiques de surface d’un groupe s’expliqueraient par une essence sous-jacente partagée par les membres de ce groupe. Dans cette thèse, nous envisageons le processus inverse en faisant l’hypothèse que la menace du stéréotype peut elle-même renforcer l’essentialisme psychologique. Selon nous, cet effet répondrait au besoin de justifier ou de rationaliser la situation d'échec dans laquelle la menace du stéréotype peut nous plonger. Ainsi, l'essentialisme offrirait cette possibilité car il serait plus confortable d’attribuer un échec à sa propre nature plutôt qu’à un manque d'apprentissage ou d'effort. De manière générale, l'essentialisme est étudié pour ses effets négatifs dans divers domaines et spécifiquement dans le paradigme de la menace du stéréotype. L'objectif englobant notre thèse est de dépasser cette conception sans toutefois la renier. Ainsi, nous tenterons d'observer l'utilité d'une telle croyance. En effet, il est possible de se demander, alors même que l’essentialisation peut renforcer la discrimination, pourquoi certaines personnes qui en sont elles-mêmes victimes usent de l’essentialisme en retour. Nous défendrons l’idée d’un essentialisme susceptible de constituer une stratégie défensive de soi, singulièrement efficace à un niveau individuel mais beaucoup moins désirable à un niveau plus groupal. Cette idée est particulièrement applicable à la menace du stéréotype dans notre optique de justification d’un échec. L'autre objectif général est d'étudier les tenants et aboutissants idéologiques de la menace du stéréotype.
... In addition to its importance for understanding human differences, recognizing structural influences has implications for how people reason about social policy and intervention. Disregarding structural causes can lead to false conclusions, such as assuming that individuals are solely to blame for their disadvantage or that societal interventions will have no effect for some groups (McCoy & Major, 2007;Piff et al., 2020;Soylu Yalcinkaya et al., 2017;Weiner et al., 2011). ...
Article
To make accurate causal inferences about social-group inequalities, people must consider structural causes. Structural causes are a distinct type of extrinsic cause—they are stable, interconnected societal forces that systematically advantage some social groups and disadvantage others. We propose a new cognitive framework to specify how people attribute inequality to structural causes. This framework is rooted in counterfactual theories of causal judgment and suggests that people will recognize structural factors as causal when they are perceived as “difference-making” for inequality above and beyond any intrinsic causes. Building on this foundation, our framework makes the following contributions. First, we propose specific types of evidence that support difference-making inferences about structural factors: within-group change (i.e., observing that disadvantaged groups’ outcomes improve under better societal conditions) and well-matched between-group comparisons (i.e., observing that advantaged group members, who have similar baseline traits to the disadvantaged group, experience more favorable societal conditions and life outcomes). Second, we consider contextual, cognitive, and motivational barriers that may complicate the availability and acceptance of this evidence. We conclude by exploring how the framework might be applied in future research examining people’s causal inferences about inequality.
... Such a belief implies that any individual-irrespective of group membership-can achieve success through hard work and ability and that apart from possible bad luck, individuals have only themselves to blame for their failures. (McCoy & Major, 2007;Plaut, Markus, & Lachman, 2002;Zucker & Bay-Cheng, 2010). Some research has attributed nonlabelers' refusal to identify as feminist to the stigma associated with feminists (e.g., Leaper & Arias, 2011;Quinn & Radtke, 2006;Ramsey et.al., 2007;Roy, Weibust, & Miller, 2007) or to having had nominal exposure to positive depictions of feminism and feminists (Leaper & Arias, 2011;Moradi, Martin, & Brewster, 2012;Zucker, 2004). ...
Article
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With women all over the world speaking up about their experiences with sexism, it is becoming increasingly important to understand what it takes for one to recognize and subsequently resist sexism. While hostile, overt forms of sexism may be obvious to detect and resist, the same cannot be said for benevolent sexism. Using a mixed-methods approach, involving the use of thematic and statistical analysis, it was found that politicized collective identity can enable women to perceive and resist both hostile and benevolent sexism and that there exist significant differences between women who identify as feminists and those who don't visa -vis perceiving and resisting sexism, the perception of well-being after resisting sexism, and possessing a politicized collective identity. hroughout history, men have held positions of greater power and social status than women, except a few matriarchies. This has ensured the survival of patriarchy to date. Factors such as men's greater size and physical strength that allowed them to dominate preindustrial societies and role divisions based on gender, which compel women to stay at homes and assume responsibility of domestic duties, have facilitated the generation of numerous patriarchal attitudes such as, "men are the stronger sex," and "women should take care of the home and family." While men have always possessed structural power in society, sexual reproduction gives women dyadic power, which is power that arises from co-dependency (Glick & Fiske, 1996). In other words, men are compelled to depend on women for childbearing as well as for the satisfaction of their sexual needs. Additionally, men may depend on women for psychological intimacy. These lead to the notion of women as 'wives and mothers' or 'romantic love objects' that need to be protected and taken care of, and this essentially, is what constitutes benevolent sexism. Despite projecting a positive view of women, benevolent sexism is similar to hostile sexism, in that it views women as the "weaker sex" (Glick and Fiske, 1996). Sexism, both hostile and benevolent, continues to plague the lives of countless women in the world. While hostile sexism is identifiable and recognizable, and can be dealt with, the same cannot be said for benevolent sexism. It can be extremely difficult to resist or raise a voice
... These dynamics seem to be less present among the economically advantagedand it is crucial to consider that individuals of white ethnic identities are also less likely to be linked to those at the very bottom as opposed to individuals of non-white ethnic identities with a similar socioeconomic status. These considerations speak to a broader debate on meritocracy justifying and worsening inequality (McCoy and Major, 2007;Mijs, 2018Mijs, , 2019. Whereas one group might strive to achieve economic independence and the ability to share, another might strive primarily for such to be multiplied among those who were restricted and might continue to fail. ...
Thesis
Higher levels of inequality have been associated with lower levels of well-being and welfare of a society. An individual cannot be unequal – inequality arises collectively and in comparison. The present research revisits inequality through the lens of interpersonal and in-group dynamics by exploring personal networks of economic support. It thereby asks: In which ways are socioeconomic inequalities entangled with practices of private redistribution? These dynamics were explored in Namibia, a country with inherited inequalities from former apartheid structures. It thus pays particular attention to ethnic identity groups. Using a mixed-method approach which comprises both qualitative statements and structural properties of 205 personal networks of support, I explore a mutual constitution between inequalities as systemic outcome and behavioural dynamic across ethnic identity groups. Building on previous insights which have stressed the continuance of stratifications due to apartheid, I show how inequality is reflected in personal meaning of support, i.e. responding to external challenges such as unemployment crafting responsibilities to provide support. I further demonstrate that providing more can be associated with higher socioeconomic positions and greater socioeconomic distance in support relationships. Such reflects higher vertical inequality in support relationships particularly for non-white ethnic identity groups. Lastly, I propose a novel approach to measuring overall distributive effects of private transfers on income inequality. I find evidence for similarities in terms of socioeconomic profiles within support relationships, yield different distributive effects on income inequality. In sum, my research demonstrates how applying a different perspective on economic support, most commonly termed informal support or informal safety nets in the Global South, can yield new insights. It thereby contests the notion of ‘informality’ where social practices constitute a vital part of social realities and further illustrates potentially conflicting priorities for individuals participating in economic and social systems where different degrees of individualism versus collectivism prevail.
... Meritocracy is widely accepted [42] and often defended as first defined: a justice principle, through which everyone's own outcomes are contingent on one's inputs [43,44]. Nevertheless, there is a paradox within Meritocracy [45] that is seen as deriving from an equity principle but has been associated to the underestimation of inherent inequalities [46] and to their justification [47]. A systematic review [48] has shown that its endorsement negatively affects low-status group members. ...
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On the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the overcrowding in prisons led to efforts to decarcerate in order to prevent and control outbreaks in prisons. This study analyses how public support for such exceptional measures are determined by cognitive and ideological factors known to create and maintain racial biases in the criminal system. Participants were asked to express their level of agreement with the early-release of hypothetical prisoners. Results showed participants to be less favourable to the early-release of Black compared to White prisoners, when they had committed a stereotypically Black crime. As expected, the congruency between the crime stereotypicality and the colour of the prisoner’s skin did not emerge for White prisoners. Moreover, the difference between the agreement with the release of the Black vs. the White prisoner when both committed a stereotypically Black crime was higher as the level of endorsement of Meritocracy increased. Contrastingly, Anti-egalitarianism only predicted an overall disagreement with prisoners’ early-release. This paper highlights the cumulative explanation by different levels of analysis of this current problem and implications for the development of the public opinion on penal subjects.
... For instance, demographic inequalities persist even after adopting merit-based employment practices (e.g., Castilla, 2008;Yang & Aldrich, 2014), arguably because of these very practices (Castilla & Benard, 2010). Experiments show that women primed with meritocratic beliefs are more likely to blame and stereotype themselves and other women in ways that justify their low status (McCoy & Major, 2007). Thus, organizations promoting meritocracy can intentionally or unintentionally trigger stereotypes and other cognitive schemas (Castilla & Benard, 2010;Uhlmann & Cohen, 2005). ...
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This study examines how meritocracy as a collective social imaginary promoting social justice and fairness reproduces class and caste inequalities and fosters ethical violence. We interrogate discourse of merit in the narratives of the professional–managerial class-in-making at an Indian business school. Empirically, we draw on interviews, full-text responses to a qualitative questionnaire, and a student’s poem. We describe how business school students articulate merit as a neoliberal ethic, emphasizing prudential, enterprising attitudes, and responsibility. However, this positive, aspirational façade of merit masks practices of ethical violence, wherein individuals invoke an ethical principle as grounds for moral condemnation and linguistic injuries. These practices of ethical violence desubjectify disadvantaged students and result in silence as a form of inequality. We contribute to organizational research on inequalities by foregrounding ethical violence and desubjectification. We detail the possibilities of discursive agency in contesting and interrupting ethical violence.
... En este sentido, el estudio realizado por Trump (2017) ha demostrado de forma robusta que la información sobre la desigualdad salarial tiene un efecto positivo sobre la brecha justa, entendido como un efecto legitimador de las diferencias de ingresos para las distintas ocupaciones. En esta línea, otro estudio experimental ha demostrado que individuos de bajo estatus expuestos a situaciones que enaltecen el ideal meritocrático tienden a justificar en mayor medida la discriminación por parte de individuos con alto estatus, lo cual está motivado por atribuciones internas (individuales); y por otro lado, esto trae consigo una mayor justificación de la jerarquía de estatus, lo que es particularmente saliente en mujeres(McCoy & Major, 2007).En un estudio experimental en Estados Unidos,Laurin et al. (2013) dan cuenta que un sistema social que se percibe más estable y estático contribuye a que los individuos detentan visiones más conservadoras de la sociedad, lo cual conduce a una mayor legitimidad de las desigualdades sociales en general. Por otro lado,Trump & White (2018) abordan empíricamente en qué medida la percepción de desigualdad motiva una mayor justificación del sistema social, evidenciando que la información sobre desigualdad no tiene un efecto sobre el apoyo global al sistema. ...
Preprint
This study analyzes the effect of information about economic inequality on the justification of wage inequality. Using a representative sample of the metropolitan area of Santiago, Chile (n=732), we implemented an experimental survey design to replicate the results reported by Kriss-Stella Trump (2017) for the context of Sweden and the United States about wage gap justification. Our results show that factual wage information does not impact the overall wage gap justification. However, we evidenced that information about wage inequality increases the justification of wage gaps according to high and low-status occupations, which is enhanced by the joint exposure to the condition that seeks to motivate the social system justification. The study's methodological limitations are discussed, along with the implications of the evidence for the substantive analysis of attitudes toward inequality and economic redistribution.
... If a certain kind of liberalism might have partially caused the stratification paradigm, it might also be the case that the stratification paradigm, however inadvertently, partially maintains a certain kind of liberalism, at least as expressed within the achievement ideology. In their article on alienation in schools, Drake and Guhin outline two key elements of the achievement ideology : first, belief in a fully-functioning meritocracy, that is, that people achieve their statuses and roles in society based exclusively on their own merit, and, second, that this belief, like many myths, give meaning and order to a chaotic world despite compelling evidence to the contrary (Liu 2011, McNamee and Miller 2009, McCoy and Major 2007, Sandel, 2020. To the extent that those in the United States or other countries hold to an achievement ideology, then it makes sense that socio-economic stratification is best solved through schooling, as it is within schools that students gain the capital or credentials through which they can achieve a particular status or role. ...
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Sociologists of education often emphasize goods that result from a practice (external goods) rather than goods intrinsic to a practice (internal goods). The authors draw from John Dewey and Alasdair MacIntyre to describe how the same practice can be understood as producing “skills” that center external goods or as producing habits (Dewey) or virtues (MacIntyre), both of which center internal goods. The authors situate these concepts within sociology of education’s stratification paradigm and a renewed interest in the concept of alienation, contrasting the concepts of skills, habits, and virtues to capital, credentials, and habitus. They close by connecting the argument to broader critiques of procedural liberalism and the ideology of meritocracy, then giving suggestions for an expanded sociology of education beyond the stratification paradigm.
... On the other hand, political attitudes appear to develop later in life (see Jennings & Niemi, 1981). More pertinent to the current study, some argue that perceived discrimination precedes system justification (as our results suggest; e.g., Suppes et al., 2019), while others argue that system justification fosters perceptions of discrimination (e.g., Bahamondes et al., 2020;McCoy & Major, 2007). Additional research is needed to examine the causal direction between perceived discrimination and system justification among women (vs. ...
Article
Although epistemic needs motivate the endorsement of system-justifying beliefs, few studies have investigated moderators of this association. Here, we argue that because being the target of discrimination should undermine one’s sense of control, the association between epistemic needs and system-justifying beliefs should be stronger for disadvantaged (vs. advantaged) groups. As hypothesized, analyses of a nation-wide random sample of adults ( N = 14,929) revealed that the negative relationship between openness to experience (i.e., an indicator of low epistemic needs) and multiple system-justifying beliefs (i.e., gender-based system justification, right-wing political preference, and conservative party support) was stronger for women (vs. men), and that these moderated associations were mediated by perceptions of gender discrimination. Our results suggest that women may sometimes endorse beliefs that conflict with their self and group interests in order to satisfy their epistemic needs.
... Firstly, the narrative surrounding the social hierarchy in academia is one that is based strongly on meritocracy and individual mobility. Previous research had found that disadvantaged groups members are less likely to perceive group discrimination and to protest when meritocratic beliefs are activated (McCoy and Major, 2007;Jost et al., 2012). Secondly, the social setting in which men and women work together in LSB fields, with plenty of collaborative intergroup contact between the genders, is likely to undermine the likelihood that women will compare the outcomes of women to men's and notice that their gender group may not be receiving equal opportunities (Saguy et al., 2009;Saguy and Chernyak-Hai, 2012). ...
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In the study of women in academia, the focus is often particularly on women’s stark underrepresentation in the math-intensive fields of natural sciences, technology, and economics (NTE). In the non-math-intensive of fields life, social and behavioral (LSB) sciences, gender issues are seemingly less at stake because, on average, women are well-represented. However, in the current study, we demonstrate that equal gender representation in LSB disciplines does not guarantee women’s equal opportunity to advance to full professorship—to the contrary. With a cross-sectional survey among N = 2,109 academics at mid-level careers (i.e., assistant and associate professors) in the Netherlands, we test the hypothesis that in LSB (more than NTE), female academics perceive to hit a “thicker” glass ceiling—that is, they see a sharper contrast between the high representation of women at the lower compared to the top levels. We test whether this predicts female academics’ lower estimated chances to reach full professorship relative to men in LSB (but not NTE). We introduce a novel perceived glass ceiling index (GCI), calculated based on academics’ perceptions of the share of women and men in their direct work environment minus their perceptions of gender ratio among full professors in their field. Results confirm that the perceived glass ceiling is thicker in the non-math-intensive LSB compared to math-intensive NTE fields. Furthermore, only in LSB (but not NTE), women perceived a thicker glass ceiling than men. Moreover, only among female academics, the thicker the perceived glass ceiling, the lower their estimated chances to become full professor 1 day. Combined, a moderated mediation showed that for women only, a thicker perceived glass ceiling in LSB compared to NTE disciplines predicted their lower estimated chances to advance to full professor level. No such mediation occurred for men. We conclude that women’s higher numerical representation in LSB disciplines does not negate a male-dominant normative standard about academic leadership and success. Paradoxically, the perceived odds for female academics to reach the top of their field are lower in fields where they are relatively highly represented, and this may pose unique barriers to women’s perceived opportunities for career success.
... After consenting, participants were randomly assigned to either read a fictitious article about how the #MeToo movement is victimizing men or a control article that described victimization of a non-self-relevant group: Canadian Inuit (for use of this control, see McCoy & Major, 2007). Participants in the #MeToo victimization condition read about how "men have been fired or forced to step down from high power positions, often facing jail time" and that people are worried about "a rush to judgment, unproven accusations that could destroy lives, and a bandwagon effect that could encourage people to overstate claims of sexual misconduct that ultimately hurt men." ...
Article
Three studies examined whether perceived increase in women’s “voice” (i.e., being heard and taken seriously about sexual assault) contributes to perceptions of bias against men. In Study 1, both men and women who perceived women to have a greater voice related to sexual assault, perceived greater victimization of men. This relationship was stronger for relatively conservative participants. In Study 2, relatively conservative (but not relatively liberal) participants who read about #MeToo perceived greater men’s victimization than those in the control condition. Study 3 examined responses to perceiving that men are victimized by #MeToo. For relatively conservative (but not liberal) men, perceptions of men’s victimhood led to less willingness to work alone with a woman and less willingness to combat sexual assault (relative to a control condition). Thus, while the #MeToo movement brings awareness of issues of sexual assault, it also generates a backlash among the more conservative, and may accentuate gender disparities.
... The notion of social status quo is evoked to account for the mechanism by which social inequalities or interpersonal and intergroup asymmetries are maintained as they are. In the field of social psychology, events, attitudes and behaviors that are its concrete manifestations are studied in the perspectives of social identity (Tajfel & Turner, 1986), social dominance (Sidanius & Pratto, 1993), system justification (Jost & Banaji, 1994; Jost & Van der Toorn, 2012), belief in a just world (Lerner, 1980), cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957), extreme right-wing authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 1981) and belief in meritocracy (McCoy & Major, 2007). The literature thus constituted suggest that individuals participe in maintaining the status quo when they rationalize certain forms of stereotypes (Allport, 1954 The conceptions presented in the previous paragraph benefit from an undeniable empirical support. ...
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This research examines the effect of political instrumentalization of ethnicity on maintenance of social status quo in societies characterized by the ethnic heterogeneity of their populations. It defends the thesis that the objective of the manipulation of ethnic identity is not to change the system made up of dominant and dominated groups, but rather to overthrow the existing hegemony to install another one or maintain it as it is. Theoretically, it is within the framework of the instrumentalist approach of interethnic conflicts (Henderson, 2010), but it differs from it because it analyzes a second aspect of the social function of the mechanism of political instrumentalization of ethnicity: its contribution to the perpetuation of social inequalities in intragroup and intergroup relations, between members of the governing elite (dominant group) and populations (dominated group). This function is not well documented by the psychosocial literature; hence its interest for this study. From a methodological point of view, this research proceeds to a review of the constitutive works of the literature relating to the inclination of individuals in favor of maintaining social inequalities. It emerges that the political elites exploit the naivety of the populations, who live in uncertainty about reality and social exclusion, to provoke inter-ethnic tensions and serve, at worst their selfish interests, at best, the interests of their ethnic group of belonging. Thus, the political instrumentalization of ethnic groups does not only generate intergroup tensions. It also contributes to the establishment and maintenance of social inequalities within groups where it is used as a strategy for capturing material and symbolic resources.
... Thus, legitimizing beliefs may be a prerequisite for perceived discrimination among the advantaged. For example, the belief in individual mobility predicted perceived discrimination among Whites (Major et al., 2002), and heightened salience of system-legitimizing beliefs increased perceived discrimination among men and Whites (McCoy & Major, 2007;Wellman et al., 2015). Therefore, we expect SDO and group threat to interact and predict increased endorsement of legitimizing beliefs, which in turn will predict greater perceived discrimination among dominant groups. ...
Article
Against the backdrop of significant social and political change in the US, dominant groups’ perceptions of discrimination against their group have increased. Previous research shows that group threat and legitimizing beliefs augment these perceptions. However, the concurrent role of individuals’ attitudes towards hierarchy in perceived discrimination has not been examined. In the present research, we investigate whether social dominance orientation (SDO) and group threat (status and moral image threat) interact to predict perceived discrimination among two dominant groups, White Americans and men. Furthermore, we test whether their perceived discrimination predicts less support for policies benefitting minorities and immigrants, and women, respectively. Across two correlational studies (Studies 1 and 2) and one experiment (Study 3), we found little support for the proposed interaction between SDO and group threat; instead, they were independent predictors of the outcomes. By testing SDO and perceived group threats simultaneously, these studies contribute to the literature by showing that group-based and hierarchy-based concerns play distinct roles in perceived discrimination among dominant groups.
... Therefore, it seems that even when a goal is very far out of reach and, as a result, perceived political efficacy is low, people can still be motivated via the emotion-focused route as long as injustice frames are successfully created around the issue (Gamson, 1992). This is crucial because greater goal distance or inequality as an objective condition differs from subjective injustice appraisals (Runciman, 1966;van Zomeren et al., 2008) and those who do not adopt injustice frames may defend group-based inequalities based on system-justifying or meritocratic beliefs (Knowles & Lowery, 2012;Ledgerwood et al., 2011;McCoy & Major, 2007). Reversely, even as the acute sense of injustice is reduced as the goal comes within sight, focusing on the high chance of impeding success can act as a strong motivator in its stead. ...
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Based on dual-pathway models of collective action, this research examines how social movements’ proximity to their stated goal affects potential supporters’ willingness and motivations to engage. Across three experimental studies in two different contexts, and for members of both the disadvantaged ingroups and advantaged outgroups (total N = 1,102), we find consistent support for two counteracting indirect effects of goal distance on collective action. When movements are closer to their goals, potential supporters perceive less injustice, which reduces their willingness to engage in collective action for the movements’ cause via the emotion-focused pathway. At the same time, perceptions of political efficacy increase, bolstering engagement via the problem-focused pathway. We conclude that while goal proximity does not seem to affect overall intentions to engage in collective action, it does affect the motivational paths to it, which makes it a relevant factor to consider in both research and social justice contexts.
... Research into descriptive beliefs has yielded important insights. Conducted primarily in the context of the United States and the "American Dream," this work elucidates how people's widespread belief in social mobility and the equity of the system (Davidai & Gilovich, 2018;Hochschild, 1981;Kluegel & Smith, 2017) justifies social inequality by casting it as the result of differences in merit rather than inequalities of opportunity (Madeira et al., 2019;Major & Kaiser, 2017;McCoy & Major, 2007;Shariff et al., 2016). Believing that one's current system is fair serves emotional functions as well-"palliating" the otherwise aversive realization that one's society is shot through with injustice (Goudarzi et al., 2020;Jost & Hunyady, 2003;Napier et al., 2020). ...
Article
Researchers across disciplines, including psychology, have sought to understand how people evaluate the fairness of resource distributions. Equity, defined as proportionality of rewards to merit, has dominated the conceptualization of distributive justice in psychology; some scholars have cast it as the primary basis on which distributive decisions are made. The present article acts as a corrective to this disproportionate emphasis on equity. Drawing on findings from different subfields, we argue that people possess a range of beliefs about how valued resources should be allocated—beliefs that vary systematically across developmental stages, relationship types, and societies. By reinvigorating notions of distributive justice put forth by the field’s pioneers, we further argue that prescriptive beliefs concerning resource allocation are ideological formations embedded in socioeconomic and historical contexts. Fairness beliefs at the micro level are thus shaped by those beliefs’ macro-level instantiations. In a novel investigation of this process, we consider neoliberalism, the globally dominant socioeconomic model of the past 40 years. Using data from more than 160 countries, we uncover evidence that neoliberal economic structures shape equity-based distributive beliefs at the individual level. We conclude by advocating an integrative approach to the study of distributive justice that bridges micro- and macro-level analyses.
... Not all parents in Bangladesh afford to send their children to excellent schools, which are private in most cases. Moreover, the expenses for education are pretty overwhelming for many parents (McCoy & Major, 2007). The education expenses create an invisible opportunity divide between the rich and the poor (Stevenson & Stigler, 1994). ...
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Globally, access to basic education is a universal fundamental human right. Conversely, governments of underdeveloped and developing countries experience several challenges in ensuring equity in basic education. Along with the government initiatives, equity in basic education also depends on parental socioeconomic status. Japan has achieved significant success in students' learning outcomes regardless of parental SES and might serve as a role model for Bangladesh to ensure equity in education. This case study research comprehends the dynamics of parental SES in accessing quality basic education for their children in Japan and Bangladesh. This paper argues that historically, meritocracy played a fundamental role in education. However, owing to the cultural paradigm shift, Parentocracy appears to be the better option for improving children's academic outcomes. The central theoretical argument of this study is to cognize whether meritocracy or Parentocracy in the modern education system can bring equity among children. This paper finds that Bangladesh can implement the Japanese experience through curriculum modifications and play-based learning approaches to ensure equity in basic education. Finally, parental involvement is vital in ensuring equity in education to accommodate all children to receive quality basic education in Bangladesh.
... The discrepancy between experimental and survey studies with respect to the sign of s can partly be made sense of by considering that in real-life situations the scope for the existence of feelings of guilt for higher economic status is likely to be lower, given the tendency to justify socioeconomic advantage and regard it as deserved and based on merit (see, inter alia, Jost & Banaji, 1994;Kleugel & Smith, 1986;McCoy & Major, 2007). Individuals are also more likely to feel compassion for people who are embarking on a joint experience with them (e.g., participating in a game) rather than with the more anonymous population at large-the nature of the relationship among individuals is argued to be particularly important in shaping reactions to downward comparisons (Loewenstein et al., 1989). ...
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While experimental and behavioral economics have extensively studied the role of both upward and downward comparisons of economic status, the latter have been largely neglected in secondary data studies. The scarce existing evidence shows mixed results and is essentially limited to analyses of subjective well‐being in high‐income countries. Using nationally representative data from Mexico with almost 45,000 personal records, we disentangle the role of absolute wealth, relative deprivation, and relative affluence as explanatory variables for smoking behavior. We find robust evidence of greater smoking at higher levels of absolute achievement and relative deprivation and lower smoking at higher levels of relative affluence. Results hold for a variety of indicators of smoking habits, reflecting both smoking prevalence and intensity. Compared to men, we find that women tend to have stronger associations between the three facets of economic status and smoking prevalence. Results are robust to the use of alternative functional forms and reference groups for the measurement of relative deprivation and relative affluence.
... A systematic review found that priming meritocracy encourages negative evaluations, facilitates the use of stereotypes targeting low-status groups, and negatively affects decisions involving low-status group members (Madeira et al., 2019). Observational evidence indicates that a preference for meritocracy is associated with downplaying racial inequality (e.g., Knowles & Lowery, 2012), and an increase in the likelihood to embrace internal attributions to explain disadvantaged groups' outcomes (Kuppens et al., 2018;McCoy & Major, 2007;Ru¨sch et al., 2010). ...
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Educational institutions are imbued with an institutional meritocratic discourse: only merit counts for academic success. In this article, we study whether this institutional belief has an impact beyond its primary function of encouraging students to study. We propose that belief in school meritocracy has broader societal impact by legitimizing the social class hierarchy it produces and encouraging the maintenance of inequalities. The results of four studies (one correlational study, N total = 198; one experiment, N total = 198; and two international data surveys, N total = 88,421 in 40+countries) indicate that belief in school meritocracy reduces the perceived unfairness of social class inequality in society, support for affirmative action policies at university and support for policies aimed at reducing income inequality. Together, these studies show that the belief that schools are meritocratic carries consequences beyond the school context as it is associated with attitudes that maintain social class and economic inequality.
... Our finding that system justification minimizes perceptions of discrimination among ethnic minorities is consistent with the view that people are motivated to protect benevolent assumptions about the world and other people (Janoff-Bulman, 1992;Lerner, 1980). These results resonate further with a growing literature on this topic (Bahamondes et al., 2020;Bahamondes et al., 2019Bahamondes et al., , 2021Major, Gramzow, et al., 2002;McCoy & Major, 2007;Napier et al., 2020;Suppes et al., 2019), as well as system justification theory as a whole (Jost, 2020;Jost & Banaji, 1994). Indeed, minimizing discrimination appears to satisfy important epistemic, existential and relational needs. ...
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Although system-justifying beliefs often mitigate perceptions of discrimination, status-based asymmetries in the ideological motivators of perceived discrimination are unknown. Because the content and societal implications of discrimination claims are status-dependant, social dominance orientation (SDO) should motivate perceptions of (reverse) discrimination among members of high-status groups, whereas system justification should motivate the minimization of perceived discrimination among the disadvantaged. We tested these hypotheses using multilevel regressions among a nationwide random sample of New Zealand Europeans (n = 29,169) and ethnic minorities (n = 5,118). As hypothesized, group-based dominance correlated positively with perceived (reverse) discrimination among ethnic-majority group members, whereas system justification correlated negatively with perceived discrimination among the disadvantaged. Furthermore, the proportion of minorities within the region strengthened the victimizing effects of SDO-Dominance, but not SDO-Egalitarianism, among the advantaged. Together, these results reveal status-based asymmetries in the motives underlying perceptions of discrimination and identify a key contextual moderator of this association.
Chapter
This chapter draws on teacher effectiveness research (TER) and elaborates on factors associated with teacher effectiveness to make suggestions for professional development. The first part provides a critical review of TER in which the major findings of this field are studied. In the second part, taking into account the limitations of TER, the dynamic model of educational effectiveness is presented. The rationale and major assumptions of this model are outlined. Effectiveness factors operating at the teacher level and their measurement dimensions are presented, and the concept of grouping of factors is introduced. In the third part, the authors provide a summary of national and international studies that were conducted to test the validity of the dynamic model at the teacher level. This part is also concerned with empirical studies that revealed relationships among factors operating at the teacher level which helped the authors define specific stages of effective teaching. In the last part, implications for TER and research on teacher professional development are drawn.
Article
Prior empirical research on the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and meritocratic attitudes has yielded inconsistent findings. This study contributes to the existing literature by examining the heterogeneous relationship between SES and meritocratic beliefs and perceptions across community socioeconomic contexts in China. Using nationally representative data from the China Family Panel Studies, the results show that individual SES is positively related to support for meritocratic beliefs, but negatively associated with perceptions of meritocracy. Moreover, SES disparities in meritocratic beliefs are more salient in socioeconomically disadvantaged and unequal communities, where residents with relatively higher SES are more likely to hold meritocratic beliefs. In contrast, SES gaps in meritocratic perceptions are more significant in socioeconomically advantaged and homogeneous communities, where individuals with relatively lower SES are more likely to perceive the allocation of resources as meritocratic. These findings provide theoretical insights for understanding how self-interest and system justification theories may jointly explain social origin disparities in public attitudes about meritocracy.
Article
Overconfident people who do not earn what they think they can may attribute this negative gap to the unfairness of the economy and thereby favor reducing income inequality when they realize their negative income-ability gap. To test this theory, we conducted an online survey experiment in the US in which we assigned the treatment emphasizing each respondent’s self-perception of the income-ability gap randomly. The results indicate that realizing this negative income-ability gap lowers respondents’ perception of the economy being meritocratic and fair. However, it did not translate into the higher support for reducing income inequality or the support for the government intervention. In addition, we examined the potential heterogeneity depending on political ideologies and political trust levels.
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As economic inequality continues to rise, there is increased concern about both the consequences of inequality and what can be done to reverse this trend. In the present paper, we review the social psychology of economic inequality and redistribution, focusing on their effects on subjective well-being. We address who is affected by inequality and redistribution, what psychological processes link inequality and redistribution to well-being, and how (incorrect) beliefs about redistribution may underlie opposition. Although redistribution has been shown to promote well-being, which policies are effective in promoting well-being remains unclear. We also highlight current limitations, namely, limited understanding of the underlying psychological mechanisms, overlooking the multidimensionality of redistribution, culture and country-specific effects, and a more intersectional approach to who is affected by inequality. Taken together, initial steps have been taken to understand how policy can be used to promote a happy society, yet many questions remain.
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Este es un libro sobre el mérito y el ideal de la meritocracia. El vocablo fue popularizado por Michael Young (1958) a través de un ensayo satírico que describía la evolución de la sociedad británica hacia el año 2033. En esta sociedad imaginada, las posiciones de poder están en manos de quienes han demostrado poseer una combinación virtuosa de inteligencia y esfuerzo. Sin embargo, no se trata de una distribución de posiciones sociales que garantice la cohesión y el bienestar social. Por el contrario, la meritocracia se convierte en un régimen donde los “vencedores”, vale decir, las élites, gozan de una legitimidad que les permite despreocuparse de la suerte de los “perdedores”, bajo la convicción de que cada cual ha merecido la posición que ocupa. Los “perdedores”, a su vez, se encuentran desprovistos de todo argumento de queja y protesta.
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No es conveniente olvidar los problemas del mérito y los orígenes de la meritocracia. A pesar de sus inicios satíricos y la constante crítica de su carácter dañino e ilusorio, el principio meritocrático se ha difundido ampliamente como una manera de conciliar igualdad y desigualdad. Hoy en día, cuando las más profundas y variadas inequidades se revelan de forma evidente, es necesario cuestionar una de las ideas más extendidas sobre el modo de administrarlas y justificarlas. Este libro propone analizar diferentes promesas y paradojas del mérito y de la meritocracia, articulando una perspectiva psicosocial y crítica que pone en diálogo a la psicología con las ciencias de la sociedad, la educación y el trabajo. La obra se organiza en tres partes, las cuales abordan las relaciones entre la meritocracia y las desigualdades sociales, y diferentes entrecruces del mérito con la educación y el trabajo. Como señala François Dubet en su contribución a este libro, la “igualdad de oportunidades meritocrática” plantea muchos desafíos de realización y también paradojas: “la realización de un modelo de justicia, perfectamente justo a priori, puede sostenerse sobre bases inciertas y, peor aún, puede engendrar efectos injustos en la medida en que legitima y profundiza desigualdades sociales que podríamos considerar escandalosas”. A través de sus diversos capítulos, esta obra invita a examinar y problematizar sistemáticamente el mérito como un ubicuo y paradójico principio de justicia.
Article
Consumer research is uniquely positioned and equipped to develop a deeper understanding of the role of economic inequality in consumers’ lives. Building from the ideas and questions raised by Goya‐Tocchetto and Payne (2022), we propose a three‐step framework that delineates the role of the marketplace in shaping consumers’ perception of and response to economic inequality. First, we propose that the marketplace shapes, and at times biases, perceptions of economic inequality, as a result of the consumption signals, social environment, and market structure that individuals observe and navigate. Second, the marketplace offers unique strategies that the “haves” and the “have‐nots” may rely on to cope with inequality. Third, the marketplace offers consumers, marketers, and policy‐makers tools to change or preserve inequality including purchase decisions, resource reallocation opportunities, and communication strategies. We outline how consumer researchers can contribute to unpacking each step of the process and identify fruitful research directions that would be interesting and important to pursue.
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Even though the meritocratic ideal is rarely fully attained in educational institutions, students’, teachers’, and parents’ belief that schools are meritocratic engines that maintain the legitimacy of these educational institutions. In this article, we study the belief in school meritocracy beyond the educational context and explore its pernicious effect on perceptions and attitudes towards the social class hierarchy in society. Results of two studies conducted in an Australian university (one correlational and one experimental; Ntotal = 390) suggest that the belief in school meritocracy reduces the perceived unfairness of social class inequality in society. The analyses of two international datasets (Ntotal = 78’421) in over 40 countries show that belief in school meritocracy decreases support for policies to reduce income inequality. Together, these studies show that the school meritocracy belief has broader societal impact in that it is associated with attitudes contributing to the legitimation of social and economic inequality.
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Measured by psychologists, conceived in critical terms, popularised as satire, and exploited by politicians, meritocracy is a dilemmatic concept that has changed its meanings throughout history. Social psychologists have conceptualised and operationalised meritocracy both as an ideology that justifies inequality and as a justice principle based on equity. These two conceptualisations express opposing ideas about the merit of meritocracy and are both freighted ideologically. We document how this dilemma of meritocracy’s merit developed from meritocracy’s inception as a critical concept among UK sociologists in the 1950s to its operationalisation by U.S. and Canadian social psychologists at the end of the 20th century. We highlight the ways in which meritocracy was originally utilised, in part, to critique the measurement of merit via IQ tests, but ironically became a construct that, through its psychologisation, also required measurement. Through the operationalisation of meritocracy, social psychologists obscured the possibility of critiquing meritocracy and missed the opportunity to offer alternatives to a system that has been legitimised by their own work. A social psychology of meritocracy should take into consideration the ideological debate around its meaning and value and the implications of its measurement and study.
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Economic inequality has been consistently rising in recent decades in many Western countries including Germany. This is a pressing issue as greater economic inequality within a society has detrimental consequences for well-being, social stability, productivity, and even life expectancy. However, little is known about how individuals of different ages experience and respond to social inequality across adulthood. Because status differences are perceived as more malleable in young adulthood (i.e., young adults can expect to move up the social ladder) and only manifest across adulthood, we predicted that negative emotional reactions to the perceived standing in the social hierarchy should become increasingly pronounced with age. Consistently, a first study based on a national representative sample in Germany (N = 2542, 18-91 years) confirmed that subjective social status had a much stronger effect on the acceptance of social inequality among middle-aged and older, as compared to younger, adults. In a second experimental study (N = 387; 18-89 years), participants of any age responded with negative emotional reactions when rising inequality was made salient. However, subjective social status moderated this effect only in middle-aged and older, but not younger, adults. Finally, a third experimental study (N = 605; 18-82 years) showed that, compared to middle-aged and older adults, younger adults maintained stronger upward mobility beliefs that accounted for the age-differential effects of subjective social status on negative emotional reactivity to rising inequality. We discuss the central role of upward mobility beliefs for individuals’ responses to social inequality across the adult life span.
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This paper investigates when and why members of privileged groups choose to describe inequality using disadvantage frames (e.g., “women have lower wages than men”) or advantage frames (e.g., “men have higher wages than women”). Four studies ( N = 1,251) test the hypothesis that advantage frames are more threatening than disadvantage frames for privileged groups, and that privileged groups may strategically avoid using advantage frames when discussing illegitimate—but not legitimate—inequality. In Study 1, members of a privileged group (White Americans) exhibited more behavioral and cardiovascular indicators of threat when reading about, reflecting on, and discussing racial inequality framed as White advantage versus Black disadvantage. In Studies 2–4, members of privileged groups (but not underprivileged groups) used advantage frames less often when describing illegitimate inequality than when describing legitimate inequality. These studies suggest that subtle linguistic changes in descriptions of inequalities can threaten privileged groups, and that privileged groups may adjust their descriptions of inequality depending on its legitimacy.
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In contemporary research, attitudes toward women appear to be more positive than those toward men in samples of US and Canadian university students, and the evaluative content of the female stereotype is more favorable than the evaluative content of the male stereotype. These research findings on attitudes and stereotypes are compared with the findings of Goldberg-paradigm experiments on judgments of women's and men's competence, which are commonly thought to reflect people's attitudes and stereotypes. Although research on competence judgments has not shown a pervasive tendency to devalue women's work, it has demonstrated prejudice against women in masculine domains (e.g. male-dominated jobs, male-stereotypic behavior). This targeted form of prejudice is consistent with the generally more favorable evaluation of women than men obtained in attitude and stereotype studies because this positive evaluation derives primarily from the ascription to women of nice, nurturant, communal characteristics, which people think qualify individuals for the domestic role as well as for low-status, low-paying female-dominated jobs. Women's experiences of gender discrimination and feminist protests concerning a contemporary backlash against women reflect women's inroads into traditionally masculine arenas, especially their efforts to gain access to high-status, high-paying male-dominated jobs, which are thought to require characteristics stereotypically ascribed to men.
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In this article, we use terror management theory to address the question of why people are motivated to achieve a variety of specific psychological endstates. We argue that the most basic of all human motives is an instinctive desire for continued life, and that all more specific motives are ultimately rooted in this basic evolutionary adaptation. We propose a tripartite motive system through which this prime directive for continued life is achieved, along with a hierarchical model of the relation between motives at different levels of abstraction. This analysis specifies the relation between the self-preservation instinct and various more specific and concrete psychological motives. The three major branches of this motivational hierarchy consist of (a) direct biological motives, which are oriented toward attaining the biological necessities of life (e.g., food, air, water); (b) symbolic-defensive motives, which are oriented toward control- ling the potential for existential terror brought on by awareness of the ultimate impossibility of continued satisfaction of the self-preservation instinct; and (c) self- expansive motives, which are oriented toward the growth and expansion of the individual's competencies and internal representations of reality. To illustrate the integrative utility of this analysis, we discuss the role of superordinate symbolic terror management needs in the pursuit of cognitive consistency, belief in a just world, self-awareness related behavior, self-esteem, social identity, impression management, and the control of others' worldviews.
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Three studies tested basic assumptions derived from a theoretical model based on the dissociation of automatic and controlled processes involved in prejudice. Study 1 supported the model's assumption that high- and low-prejudice persons are equally knowledgeable of the cultural stereotype. The model suggests that the stereotype is automatically activated in the presence of a member (or some symbolic equivalent) of the stereotype group and that low-prejudice responses require controlled inhibition of the automatically activated stereotype. Study 2, which examined the efforts of automatic stereotype activation on the evaluation of ambiguous stereotype-relevant behaviors performed by a race-unspecified person, suggested that when subjects' ability to consciously monitor stereotype activation is precluded, both high- and low-prejudice subjects produce stereotype-congruent evaluations of ambiguous behaviors. Study 3 examined high- and low-prejudice subjects' responses in a consciously directed thought-listing task. Consistent with the model, only low-prejudice subjects inhibited the automatically activated stereotype-congruent thoughts and replaced them with thoughts reflecting equality and negations of the stereotype. The relation between stereotypes and prejudice and implications for prejudice reduction are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Two studies addressed the relationship between Protestant ethic (PE) ideology and psychological well-being for self-perceived overweight and normal weight women. In Study 1, PE beliefs interacted with self-perceived weight status: For very overweight women, higher PE beliefs were related to lower psychological well-being, whereas the opposite pattern emerged for normal weight women. The relationship of PE to well-being was not mediated by beliefs about controllability of weight or dislike of the overweight. In Study 2, either a PE ideology or an inclusive ideology was primed within the context of the stigma of overweight. For overweight participants, printing PE ideology led to decreased psychological well-being, whereas priming an inclusive ideology led to increased psychological well-being. Normal weight participants were unaffected. PE ideology as a vulnerability factor for the psychological well-being of the overweight is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)
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Prejudice against fat people was compared with symbolic racism. An anti-fat attitudes questionnaire was developed and used in several studies testing the notion that antipathy toward fat people is part of an "ideology of blame." Three commonalities between antifat attitudes and racism were explored: (a) the association between values, beliefs, and the rejection of a stigmatized group, (b) the old-fashioned antipathy toward deviance of many sorts, and (c) the lack of self-interest in out-group antipathy. Parallels were found on all 3 dimensions. No in-group bias was shown by fat people. Fatism appears to behave much like symbolic racism, but with less of the negative social desirability of racism.
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The equation of prejudice with antipathy is challenged by recent research on sexism. Benevolent sexism (a subjectively favorable, chivalrous ideology that offers protection and affection to women who embrace conventional roles) coexists with hostile sexism (antipathy toward women who are viewed as usurping men's power). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, first validated in U.S. samples, has been administered to over 15,000 men and women in 19 nations. Hostile and benevolent sexism are complementary, cross-culturally prevalent ideologies, both of which predict gender inequality. Women, as compared with men, consistently reject hostile sexism but often endorse benevolent sexism (especially in the most sexist cultures). By rewarding women for conforming to a patriarchal status quo, benevolent sexism inhibits gender equality. More generally, affect toward minority groups is often ambivalent, but subjectively positive stereotypes are not necessarily benign.
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It was hypothesized that relative group status and endorsement of ideologies that legitimize group status differences moderate attributions to discrimination in intergroup encounters. According to the status-legitimacy hypothesis, the more members of low-status groups endorse the ideology of individual mobility, the less likely they are to attribute negative outcomes from higher status group members to discrimination. In contrast, the more members of high-status groups endorse individual mobility, the more likely they are to attribute negative outcomes from lower status group members to discrimination. Results from 3 studies using 2 different methodologies provide support for this hypothesis among members of different high-status (European Americans and men) and low-status (African Americans, Latino Americans, and women) groups.
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Beginning with the assumption that implicit theories of personality are crucial tools for understanding social behavior, the authors tested the hypothesis that perceivers would process person information that violated their predominant theory in a biased manner. Using an attentional probe paradigm (Experiment 1) and a recognition memory paradigm (Experiment 2), the authors presented entity theorists (who believe that human attributes are fixed) and incremental theorists (who believe that human attributes are malleable) with stereotype-relevant information about a target person that supported or violated their respective theory. Both groups of participants showed evidence of motivated, selective processing only with respect to theory-violating information. In Experiment 3, the authors found that after exposure to theory-violating information, participants felt greater anxiety and worked harder to reestablish their sense of prediction and control mastery. The authors discuss the epistemic functions of implicit theories of personality and the impact of violated assumptions.
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In 3 studies, the authors tested the hypothesis that discrimination targets' worldview moderates the impact of perceived discrimination on self-esteem among devalued groups. In Study 1, perceiving discrimination against the ingroup was negatively associated with self-esteem among Latino Americans who endorsed a meritocracy worldview (e.g., believed that individuals of any group can get ahead in America and that success stems from hard work) but was positively associated with self-esteem among those who rejected this worldview. Study 2 showed that exposure to discrimination against their ingroup (vs. a non-self-relevant group) led to lower self-esteem, greater feelings of personal vulnerability, and ingroup blame among Latino Americans who endorsed a meritocracy worldview but to higher self-esteem and decreased ingroup blame among Latino Americans who rejected it. Study 3 showed that compared with women informed that prejudice against their ingroup is pervasive, women informed that prejudice against their ingroup is rare had higher self-esteem if they endorsed a meritocracy worldview but lower self-esteem if they rejected this worldview. Findings support the idea that perceiving discrimination against one's ingroup threatens the worldview of individuals who believe that status in society is earned but confirms the worldview of individuals who do not.
Article
Three studies tested basic assumptions derived from a theoretical model based on the dissociation of automatic and controlled processes involved in prejudice. Study 1 supported the model's assumption that high- and low-prejudice persons are equally knowledgeable of the cultural stereotype. The model suggests that the stereotype is automatically activated in the presence of a member (or some symbolic equivalent) of the stereotyped group and that low-prejudice responses require controlled inhibition of the automatically activated stereotype. Study 2, which examined the effects of automatic stereotype activation on the evaluation of ambiguous stereotype-relevant behaviors performed by a race-unspecified person, suggested that when subjects' ability to consciously monitor stereotype activation is precluded, both high- and low-prejudice subjects produce stereotype-congruent evaluations of ambiguous behaviors. Study 3 examined high- and low-prejudice subjects' responses in a consciously directed thought-listing task. Consistent with the model, only low-prejudice subjects inhibited the automatically activated stereotype-congruent thoughts and replaced them with thoughts reflecting equality and negations of the stereotype. The relation between stereotypes and prejudice and implications for prejudice reduction are discussed.
Article
According to system justification theory, people internalize and perpetuate systemic forms of inequality, even though it sometimes means harboring preferences for members of higher status outgroups. In Study 1, students from a high status (but not a low status) university exhibited significant ingroup favoritism on the IAT, an automatic evaluative measure. Furthermore, for students at the high status university, implicit ingroup bias was positively correlated with implicit self-esteem. For students at the low status university, implicit acceptance of consensual stereotypes concerning academic and extracurricular characteristics was associated with implicit outgroup favoritism. In Study 2, Latinos and Asian Americans exhibited significant outgroup favoritism on an unobtrusive behavioral measure by choosing White interaction partners over members of their own groups. In Study 3, parents named newborn children disproportionately after their fathers (compared with their mothers) and published birth announcements for boys slightly more often than for girls. Thus, we observed evidence of system justification on implicit or unobtrusive measures in three different socially disadvantaged groups.
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This chapter highlights the role that social comparison processes and attributions of responsibility play in translating social inequality into beliefs about personal and collective entitlement. The chapter illustrates the importance of entitlement as an explanatory construct in understanding the ways in which members of different social groups react to their socially distributed outcomes. This chapter organizes into a systematic framework current knowledge about the psychological antecedents and consequences of beliefs about entitlement. The chapter addresses the ways in which social comparison processes and attributions contribute to the development of a lesser sense of personal entitlement among members of objectively disadvantaged groups. Social comparison biases tend to prevent awareness of disadvantage, and attribution biases tend to legitimize disadvantage. As a result, what “is” has a marked tendency to become what “ought” to be. These processes are illustrated through a program of research on the origins of gender differences in personal entitlement to pay. Gender differences in entitlement are proposed to underlie the finding that women and men typically do not differ in their life, job, or marital satisfaction, despite situations at work and at home that are disadvantageous for women compared to the situations of men. The chapter considers the reason for members of other disadvantaged groups; for example, African—Americans; expressing discontent with their objectively unjust situations. The situational and personal factors that prompt people to compare with advantaged outgroups and that lead them to question the legitimacy of outcome distributions result in elevated entitlement among the disadvantaged and correspondingly higher levels of discontent.
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Whites' racial attitudes have become complex, with feelings of friendliness and rejection toward Black people often existing side by side. We believe these conflicting sentiments are rooted in two largely independent, core value orientations of American culture, humanitarianism–egalitarianism and the Protestant work ethic. We devised four scales, Pro-Black, Anti-Black, Protestant Ethic (PE), and Humanitarianism–Egalitarianism (HE). In Study 1, the scales were given to White students at eight colleges. As predicted, significant positive correlations were usually found between Pro-Black and HE scores and between Anti-Black and PE scores, whereas other correlations tended to be much lower. In Study 2, we used a priming technique with White students to test for causality. As predicted, priming a given value raised scores on the theoretically corresponding attitude but did not affect scores on the other attitude; priming a single attitude influenced scores on the corresponding value, but not on the other value. Implications are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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According to the auto-motive model (J. A. Bargh, 1990), intentions and goals are represented mentally and, as representations, should be capable of nonconscious activation by the environmental context (i.e., "priming"). To test this hypothesis, the authors replicated 2 well-known experiments that had demonstrated differential effects of varying the information-processing goal (impression formation or memorization) on processing the identical behavioral information. However, instead of giving participants the goals via explicit instructions, as had been done in the original studies. the authors primed the impression formation or memorization goal. In both cases, the original pattern of results was reproduced. The findings thus support the hypothesis that the effect of activated goals is the same whether the activation is nonconscious or through an act of will. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Examined the role of anticipated-interaction instructions on memory for and organization of social information. In Study 1, Ss read and recalled information about a prospective partner (i.e., target) on a problem-solving task and about 4 other stimulus people. The results indicated that (a) Ss recalled more items about the target than the others, (b) the target was individuated from the others in memory, and (c) Ss were more accurate on a name–item matching task for the target than for the others. Study 2 compared anticipated interaction with several other processing goals (i.e., memory, impression formation, self-comparison, friend-comparison). Only anticipated-interaction and impression formation instructions led to higher levels of recall and more accurate matching performance for the target than for the others. However, the conditional probability data suggest that anticipated interaction led to higher levels of organization of target information than did any of the other conditions. Discussion considers information processing strategies that are possibly instigated by anticipated-interaction instructions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The just world hypothesis states that people have a need to believe that their environment is a just and orderly place where people usually get what they deserve. The present article reviews the experimental research that has been generated by the just world hypothesis. Considerable attention is devoted to an experiment by M. J. Lerner and C. H. Simmons (see record 1966-11086-001). In light of the existing empirical findings, an elaboration of the initial hypothesis is offered, and it is suggested that people's need to believe in a just world affects their reaction to the innocent suffering of others. Finally, recurrent conceptual misinterpretations and methodological errors found in the literature are identified. (73 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Examined the extent to which White undergraduates perceive that Blacks violate their values. In 2 studies, with a total of 1,044 White undergraduates, the effects of both perceived and actual value violation on evaluative judgments of stereotyped group members were studied. The race analysis was extended by also focusing on sexual orientation as a social category with value implications. Ss were more likely to perceive lack of support for values than violation of values in outgroups relative to ingroups. Value violation had a large impact on judgments of individual group members, although social category membership (race) continued to exert some influence as well. Individual and situational differences in Protestant Ethic and egalitarian value salience increased the use of race as a judgment cue. These values were not implicated in judgments of heterosexual vs homosexual targets. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Interpretation of depth interviews with fifteen working-class men, yielding conclusions about their attitudes toward equality, freedom, Utopia, and the American social, economic, and political system. Harvard Book List (edited) 1971 #497 (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Many personality trait terms can be thought of as summary labels for broad conceptual categories that are used to encode information about an individual's behavior into memory. The likelihood that a behavior is encoded in terms of a particular trait category is postulated to be a function of the relative accessibility of that category in memory. In addition, the trait category used to encode a particular behavior is thought to affect subsequent judgments of the person along dimensions to which it is directly or indirectly related. To test these hypotheses, undergraduates first performed a sentence construction task that activated concepts associated with either hostility (Exp I, 96 Ss) or kindness (Exp II, 96 new Ss). As part of an ostensibly unrelated impression formation experiment, Ss later read a description of behaviors that were ambiguous with respect to hostility (kindness) and then rated the target person along a variety of trait dimensions. Ratings of the target along these dimensions increased with the number of times that the test concept had previously been activated in the sentence construction task and decreased with the time interval between these prior activations and presentation of the stimulus information to be encoded. Results suggest that category accessibility is a major determinant of the way in which social information is encoded into memory and subsequently used to make judgments. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Status beliefs are shared beliefs that people who belong to a certain category of distinction (e.g., men, professionals) are more socially worthy and competent than those who belong to another category (women, service workers); these status beliefs often serve as a pervasive and fundamental form of legitimizing ideology in society. This chapter describes a series of studies that investigate some mechanisms by which status beliefs and accompanying structural inequality may develop in society. The studies test the capacity of doubly dissimilar encounters to actually create status beliefs and the holders of these beliefs to teach them to others by acting on them in other encounters. Results show that people took on beliefs that disadvantaged them, simply from observation, and that they can teach a new belief to others by acting on the new belief in future encounters. Seen from a status construction theory perspective, the process that creates status beliefs is the apparently consensual association of influence and esteem in local encounters with a categorical distinction between the actors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Although the concept of justification has played a significant role in many social psychological theories, its presence in recent examinations of stereotyping has been minimal. We describe and evaluate previous notions of stereotyping as ego-justification and group-justification and propose an additional account, that of system-justification, which refers to psychological processes contributing to the preservation of existing social arrangements even at the expense of personal and group interest. It is argued that the notion of system-justification is necessary to account for previously unexplained phenomena, most notably the participation by disadvantaged individuals and groups in negative stereotypes of themselves, and the consensual nature of stereotypic beliefs despite differences in social relations within and between social groups. We offer a selective review of existing research that demonstrates the role of stereotypes in the production of false consciousness and develop the implications of a system-justification approach. [T]he rationalizing and justifying function of a stereotype exceeds its function as a reflector of group attributes—G. W. Allport (1958, p. 192).
Article
ABSTRACT We hypothesized that strong believers in a just world would be motivated to perceive personal deprivation as fair and to report little resentment, compared to weak believers in a just world In two experiments, subjects performed a computer task to earn points toward a goal that had desirable consequences In the first study, some subjects chose their computer task, whereas other subjects were randomly assigned to a task In the second study, some subjects decided not to practice the task before the test trial, whereas other subjects learned after the test trial that the experimenter had forgotten to give them the opportunity to practice All subjects received bogus feedback indicating that they did not earn any points The predicted relation between beliefs in a just world and perceived fairness was obtained in both experiments, especially within the choice condition of Experiments and the experimenter error condition of Experiments The results show that beliefs in a just world have implications not only for perceptions of others, but also for self-perception
Article
Prior psychological research on attitudes toward the poor has focused almost exclusively on the attributions people make to explain why individuals are poor (e.g., Smith & Stone, 1989; Zucker & Weiner, 1993). The goal of the current study was to investigate the relationships among feelings about the poor and poverty, stereotypes of the poor, attributions for poverty, and sociopolitical ideologies (as assessed by the Protestant Ethic, Belief in a Just World, and Right Wing Authoritarianism Scales). In our Midwestern college sample (n = 209), attitudes toward the poor were found to be significantly more negative than attitudes toward the middle class. In addition, participants were most likely to blame poor people them-selves for their poverty. However, attitudes toward the poor and attributions for the causes of poverty were found to vary among individuals from different sociodemographic backgrounds and by degree of endorsement of Protestant ethic, just world, and authoritarianism beliefs. Few gender differences were obtained.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2003.
Article
Previous research has shown that trait concepts and stereotype become active automatically in the presence of relevant behavior or stereotyped-group features. Through the use of the same priming procedures as in previous impression formation research, Experiment 1 showed that participants whose concept of rudeness was printed interrupted the experimenter more quickly and frequently than did participants primed with polite-related stimuli. In Experiment 2, participants for whom an elderly stereotype was primed walked more slowly down the hallway when leaving the experiment than did control participants, consistent with the content of that stereotype. In Experiment 3, participants for whom the African American stereotype was primed subliminally reacted with more hostility to a vexatious request of the experimenter. Implications of this automatic behavior priming effect for self-fulfilling prophecies are discussed, as is whether social behavior is necessarily mediated by conscious choice processes.
Article
Do we always know the reasons for our actions? Or is our behavior sometimes unknowingly and unintentionally influenced by what we have recently perceived? It has been traditionally assumed that the automatic influence of knowledge in memory is limited to people's interpretation of the world, and stops short of shaping their actual behavior. Researchers in experimental social psychology have begun to challenge this assumption by documenting how people's behaviors can be unknowingly influenced by knowledge that is incidentally activated in memory during social perception. We review findings that suggest that the social knowledge that is incidentally activated while reading words or imagining events subsequently affects participants' behaviors across a range of ostensibly unrelated domains.
Article
This research examined the relationship between endorsing system-justifying beliefs and psychological well-being among individuals from ethnic groups that vary in social status. System-justifying beliefs are beliefs that imply that status in society is fair, deserved, and merited; examples of system-justifying beliefs in the United States include the beliefs that hard work pays off and that anyone can get ahead regardless of their group membership. We found that endorsing system-justifying beliefs was negatively related to psychological well-being among members of low-status groups who were highly identified with their group but positively related to well-being among members of low-status groups who were not highly identified with their ethnic group. In addition, we found that endorsing system-justifying beliefs was positively related to well-being among members of high-status groups, especially among members of high-status groups who were highly identified with the group.
The emergence of status beliefs: from structural inequal-ity to legitimizing ideology The psychology of legitimacy: emerging perspectives on ideology, justice, and intergroup relations
  • C Ridgeway
Ridgeway, C. (2001). The emergence of status beliefs: from structural inequal-ity to legitimizing ideology. In J. T. Jost & B. Major (Eds.), The psychology of legitimacy: emerging perspectives on ideology, justice, and intergroup relations (pp. 257–277). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Social representations and ideology: towards the study of ideological representations
  • Augustinos
How social perception automatically influences behavior
  • Ferguson
Perceived discrimination as worldview threat or worldview confirmation: implications for self-esteem
  • B Major
  • C R Kaiser
  • S K Mccoy
  • L Brien