Inequality, discrimination, and the power of the status quo: Direct evidence for a motivation to see the way things are as the way they should be.

Published

Journal Article

How powerful is the status quo in determining people's social ideals? The authors propose (a) that people engage in injunctification, that is, a motivated tendency to construe the current status quo as the most desirable and reasonable state of affairs (i.e., as the most representative of how things should be); (b) that this tendency is driven, at least in part, by people's desire to justify their sociopolitical systems; and (c) that injunctification has profound implications for the maintenance of inequality and societal change. Four studies, across a variety of domains, provided supportive evidence. When the motivation to justify the sociopolitical system was experimentally heightened, participants injunctified extant (a) political power (Study 1), (b) public funding policies (Study 2), and (c) unequal gender demographics in the political and business spheres (Studies 3 and 4, respectively). It was also demonstrated that this motivated phenomenon increased derogation of those who act counter to the status quo (Study 4). Theoretical implications for system justification theory, stereotype formation, affirmative action, and the maintenance of inequality are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kay, AC; Gaucher, D; Peach, JM; Laurin, K; Friesen, J; Zanna, MP; Spencer, SJ

Published Date

  • September 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 97 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 421 - 434

PubMed ID

  • 19685999

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19685999

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1315

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3514

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0015997

Language

  • eng