The system justification conundrum: Re-examining the cognitive dissonance basis for system justification

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Abstract

© 2016 Owuamalam, Rubin and Spears.In a landmark 1994 publication in the British Journal of Social Psychology, Jost and Banaji proposed the existence of a novel, fundamental system justification motive that drives social behaviors. More specifically, they proposed (a) that people have an epistemic need to support social hierarchies and societal systems, (b) that this system justification motive is inversely related to personal and group interests among members of low status groups, and (c) that it is stronger and more effective for people who are disadvantaged by societal systems than for those who are advantaged by them, especially when personal and group interests are weak. This system justification theory (SJT) has faced theoretical opposition from social identity researchers (e.g., Spears et al., 2001; Reicher, 2004; Rubin and Hewstone, 2004). In addition, evidence against the theory has recently accumulated from large scale cross-national studies (e.g., Brandt, 2013; Kelemen et al., 2014) and experimental studies (Trump and White, 2015; Owuamalam et al., 2016). In the present article, we re-examine the key cognitive dissonance assumptions for SJT's central proposition that support for unequal systems should be higher among members of disadvantaged groups than among members of advantaged groups when personal and group interests are weak.

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Owuamalam, C. K., Rubin, M., & Spears, R. (2016, November 30). The system justification conundrum: Re-examining the cognitive dissonance basis for system justification. Frontiers in Psychology. Frontiers Media S.A. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01889

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