A Contextual Analysis of the System Justification Motive and Its Societal Consequences


Journal Article (Chapter)

© 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc. All rights reserved. This chapter reviews recent theory and empirical evidence demonstrating the effects of the system justification motive on consequential social and psychological phenomena, as well as the conditions under which these effects are likely to be most pronounced. A review is presented of the theory and evidence demonstrating three conditions that increase the activation of the system justification motive: system threat, perceived system inevitability, and perceptions of personal and system control. A description is made of how, in these conditions, the system justification motive manifests itself in processes of explicit system defense, interpersonal and intergroup perception, and resistance to social change. Throughout, the emphasis is on the contextual nature of these effects, as well as their consequences for the maintenance of social inequality.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kay, AC; Zanna, MP

Published Date

  • May 1, 2009

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320916.003.007

Citation Source

  • Scopus