Restricted emigration, system inescapability, and defense of the status quo: system-justifying consequences of restricted exit opportunities.
The freedom to emigrate at will from a geographic location is an internationally recognized human right. However, this right is systematically violated by restrictive migration policies. In three experiments, we explored the psychological consequences of violating the right to mobility. Our results suggest that, ironically, restricted freedom of movement can lead to increased system justification (i.e., increased support of the status quo). In Study 1, we found that participants who read that their country was difficult to leave became stronger defenders of their system's legitimacy than before, even in domains unrelated to emigration policy (e.g., gender relations). In Study 2, we demonstrated that this increased system defense was the result of a motivated process. In Study 3, we broadened the scope of this psychological phenomenon by conceptually replicating it using a different system (participants' university) and measure of system defense. The importance of these two findings-the first experimental demonstration of the psychological consequences of restrictive emigration policies and the introduction of a novel psychological phenomenon-is discussed.
Laurin, K; Shepherd, S; Kay, AC
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