System Justification or Social Dominance? A Multilevel Test of the Ideological Motivators of Perceived Discrimination


Although system-justifying beliefs often mitigate perceptions of discrimination, status-based asymmetries in the ideological motivators of perceived discrimination are unknown. Because the content and societal implications of discrimination claims are status-dependant, social dominance orientation (SDO) should motivate perceptions of (reverse) discrimination among members of high-status groups, whereas system justification should motivate the minimization of perceived discrimination among the disadvantaged. We tested these hypotheses using multilevel regressions among a nationwide random sample of New Zealand Europeans (n = 29,169) and ethnic minorities (n = 5,118). As hypothesized, group-based dominance correlated positively with perceived (reverse) discrimination among ethnic-majority group members, whereas system justification correlated negatively with perceived discrimination among the disadvantaged. Furthermore, the proportion of minorities within the region strengthened the victimizing effects of SDO-Dominance, but not SDO-Egalitarianism, among the advantaged. Together, these results reveal status-based asymmetries in the motives underlying perceptions of discrimination and identify a key contextual moderator of this association.

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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 1–15