System Justification Jost 2000 & 2004


Put another way, a system justification perspective leads one to inquire how and why people maintain the “belief in a just world” (Lerner, 1980), especially when it directly conflicts with motives for self-enhancement and motives to make ingroup favoring attributions for failure and disadvantage (see also Jost et al., 2001)

System justification theory is a functional theory of social and political cognition, which
posits that attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes serve system justifying ends for  individuals, groups, and social systems (Jost & Banaji, 1994). One of the main theoretical assumptions of our perspective is that people tend to use ideas about groups and individuals to justify the way things are, so that existing social arrangements are perceived as fair and legitimate, perhaps even natural and inevitable. This means that there may be a relatively general (but not universal) directional bias in favor of the status quo; cognition, we say, is deployed in the service of the social system (see also Haines & Jost, 2000; Jost, in press; Jost, Pelham, & Carvallo, 2000).

The notion that hierarchical forms of social organization are sustained in part by consensually shared ideologies that cut across group boundaries is a very important point of convergence between system justification and social dominance theories (see especially Sidanius, Levin, & Pratto, 1996).

Three drives or motives in need of resolve:
1) Ego justification- the need to develop adn maintain a favorable self-image and to feel valid, justified, and legitimate as an individual actor (Jen note: autonomous?)
2) Group justification- the desire to develop adn maintain favorable perceptions of one’s ingroup and to defend and justify the actions of ingroup members (social identity theory)
3) System justification- the epistemic, ideological, and psychological needs to percieve the status quo as fair, legitimate, adn justificatible.

How SysJus is different that SDT: SysJus does a good job of taking into account that sometimes the motive to justify is strongest among those who are most disadvantaged by the social order. See also Jost Pelham sheldon and Ni 2001

social dominance and system justification perspectives postulate a great deal of ideological consensus across groups, as a result of the spread of dominant ideology and cultural hegemony.

According to social dominance theory, one of the social psychological mechanisms by which the species purportedly maintains unequal relations between groups is the development and transmission of “legitimizing myths”. These include racist, sexist, and other xenophobic ideologies which attempt to justify and legitimize the discriminatory treatment of some social groups.

Social dominance theory holds that dominant groups are biologically hard-wired to defend their position of dominance by developing hierarchy enhancing attitudes. By far the strongest empirical evidence obtained in support of social dominance theory concerns sex differences in social behavior. In particular, it has been found that males tend to exhibit more ingroup favoritism, more outgroup hostility, more politically conservative attitudes in at least some domains, and higher scores on measures of social dominance than do females (e.g., Pratto et al., 1994; Sidanius, Pratto, & Rabinowitz, 1994).

The goal of system justification theory, by contrast, is to identify contexts in which people will accept, protect, defend, and justify existing forms of social relations and when they will reject, challenge, attack, and criticize them. pg 30. I’m interested in perhaps which men (high conformers vs low conformers), and under which circumstances (masc threat vs masc affirm) sexist and racist ideologies are or are not endorsed and to what extent. 

YAS JOST YAS Probably the most fundamental difference between social dominance theory and system justification theory concerns the evolutionary origins of social attitudes and intergroup behavior (see also Sidanius et al., this issue). Whereas social dominance theory is a sociobiological theory that holds ethnocentrism and tendencies to preserve the status quo to be “adaptive”, “inevitable”, and part of “human nature” (Sidanius,  1993; Sidanius & Pratto, 1993), system justification theory stresses processes of social learning and ideological persuasion as determinants of stereotypes and other intergroup attitudes (Jost, 1995; Jost & Banaji, 1994). From a system justification perspective, sociobiological accounts run the risk of becoming “legitimizing myths,” in that they provide essentialistic justification for status  differences between groups (see Haslam, Rothschild, & Ernst, 2000; Hoffman & Hurst, 1989; Yzerbyt & Rogier, 2001). I am not claiming that social dominance researchers themselves have sought to justify existing status and power differences between groups, only that the history of using evolutionary meta-theory to understand human social behavior is a troubled one, ideologically speaking, as it has been closely allied
with social Darwinism and other political attempts to justify the dominance of some groups over others (e.g., Lewontin, Rose, & Kamin, 1984).     My purpose here is not to argue that the sociobiological underpinnings of social dominance theory are scientifically incorrect, although others have advanced this argument (e.g., Gould, 1977; Lewontin et al., 1984).

To investigate whether the sociobiological tenets of social dominance theory function as a kind of legitimizing myth, I conducted a study to assess the link between social dominance orientation and endorsement of evolutionary explanations for social inequality. I found that people who score high on Pratto et al.’s (1994) social dominance orientation (SDO) scale agree more with scientific claims about the immutability and biological inevitability of status hierarchies (derived from articles on social dominance theory) than do people who score low on social dominance orientation. pg 32 It seems that people who are high in social dominance orientation are more likely than others to adopt “naturalistic legitimizing myths” in seeking to explain social inequality among social groups. 33

Okay I’m looking at group justification, whcih is SDO/SDT. I need a combo of SDT and SysJus…



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